Plastic is no longer a waste management issue

New CSE report shows its production went up by 80% during 2000-15, adding to climate change

GN Bureau | November 22, 2022


#climate change   #environment   #industry   #Plastic   #Swachh Bharat Mission   #CSE  
Plastic waster at the dumping yard at Gazipur in New Delhi (File photo: GN)
Plastic waster at the dumping yard at Gazipur in New Delhi (File photo: GN)

Plastic is arguably the most ubiquitous material of our times. In this Age of Plastic, it might seem its use can’t go up any further – and yet it keeps going. Between 2000 and 2015, global production of plastic increased by a whopping 79%. The total mass of plastics on our planet is now twice the mass of all living mammals, and about 80% of all the plastics ever produced continues to remain in the environment.
 
There is an intimate connection to climate change as well. Plastic production has quadrupled over the last four decades and if this trend were to continue, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from plastics alone would reach 15% of the global carbon budget by 2050. In fact, if the plastic industry were a country, it would be the fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter on Earth.
 
India consumed 18.45 million metric tonne (MMT) of plastic in 2018-19; and 59% of it went into packaging. This means that of all the petrochemicals produced in the country (29.1 MMT), more than 37% was used to manufacture plastics for packaging applications.
 
These mind-numbing data and information is compiled from national and international research in a new report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) which was released here on Tuesday.

Bringing home the omnipresent character of the ‘plastic problem’, the report was released at a national conclave titled ‘The plastic life cycle’ that brought together key regulators, waste management professionals, urban and town planners, representatives from NGOs and journalists. The report was released jointly by Leena Nandan, secretary, ministry of environment, forest and climate change, Parameswaran Iyer, CEO, NITI Aayog, and Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.
 
“We are given to understand that the problem of plastic is a waste management issue and not a material production issue because we can recycle it, burn and bury it, or ship it to other countries where it can be handled. But it is not that simple. We have crossed the last frontier on plastic with our current production and consumption patterns. Plastic has not gone away. Plastic that we produce on land is now ending up in our oceans, and from there and elsewhere, into our own bodies,” Narain said.
 
Releasing the report, Nandan pointed out that while the issue of managing plastic waste was indeed an extremely complex one, it was not something that cannot be resolved. In fact, efforts to mitigate the ill effects of plastics has gained traction through the introduction of policies such as single-use plastic ban and extended producer responsibility. The Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 has listed plastic waste management as one of its key agendas.
 
Carrying on from where Nandan left off, Parameswaran Iyer spoke about three key areas where intervention needed to be focused. “These three key things are governance of plastic and plastic waste management, ensuring behaviour change among people so that they are involved in this management, and following the tenets laid down in prime minister Narendra Modi’s Mission LiFE (Lifestyle For Environment), which tells us what communities can and should do,” he said.
 
The CSE’s report “is an effort to understand the plastic life cycle and the plastic pollution challenge from the perspective of the different stakeholders who are integral to the landscape.” The report, thus, is an extensive assessment of the roles played by stakeholders ranging from the petroleum, petrochemical and plastic industry; the biodegradable and compostable plastic industry; and producers and brand owners to retailers and consumers; the formal and informal sector recyclers and aggregators; and end-of-life solution providers.
 
Offering the rationale behind the report, Atin Biswas from the municipal solid waste management unit at CSE says: “The coming years are going to be critical for defining the way we approach this enormous challenge of plastic waste. The technical capacity of the state governments, ULBs, and other stakeholders would play a pivotal role in achieving a plastic waste-free nation. It is, therefore, imperative to understand the life cycle of plastic to strategise and streamline our approach towards managing plastic waste not only in India, but across the globe.”

Comments

 

Other News

Taming turbulence in Indian aviation

The booming Indian aviation industry, among the fastest growing sectors in the world, is projected to be valued at $40 billion by 2027. But, despite robust demand for air travel across the country, more than 50 airlines have closed down in the last decade in India and most private airlines have closed with

PM Modi leaves for G7 Summit in Italy

In his first foreign visit after taking oath of office for the third time, prime minister Narendra Modi Thursday evening left for Italy to participate in the G7 Outreach Summit. “At the invitation of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, I am travelling to Apulia region in Italy to participat

Some market talk, some gossip – learnings over tea at RBI

A Fly on the RBI Wall: An Insider’s View of the Central Bank By Alpana Killawala Rupa Publications, 248 pages, Rs 595  

Coalition politics not expected to impact India’s foreign policy

Prime minister Narendra Modi has strived incessantly to bring laurels and much needed recognition for the nation since May 2014 when he was sworn in as the head of state. The poser which can be deliberated upon is this: What will be the consequential impact of the new era of coalition politics which confro

New govt`s first decision pushes for farmer welfare

The BJP-led NDA government has started its term with its first decision relating to farmer welfare. Narendra Modi took charge of office as prime minister of India for the third time on Monday, a day after he and his colleagues were sworn in by the president of India. In his fi

Narendra Modi takes oath for third term

Narendra Modi made history Sunday evening as he was sworn in by president Droupadi Murmu for a third successive term. Modi thus becomes the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to have comptered two full terms and beginning a third consecutive term. In the swearing-in c

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter