Single-use plastic ban: Govt to focus on awareness

Recycling, not ban, the right way, manufacturers insist

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | October 4, 2019 | Mumbai


#environment   #Single-use plastic   #economy  


After prime minister Narendra Modi in his independence day address to the nation referred to the environmental harm caused by single-use plastic, the government was widely expected to come out with a formal ban on the substance from October 2, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. There has been no ban, though the PM on Wednesday did speak about eliminating single-use plastic by 2022.

While no formal ban means relief for the industry, which is reeling under slowdown and job losses, the government is, in the meantime, expected to focus on creating public awareness. It can ask states to enforce existing rules against storing, manufacturing and using some single-use plastic products such as polythene bags and styro foam.

Earlier in the week, without confirming a timeline for ban on single-use plastic Kashi Nath Jha, joint secretary, department of chemicals and petrochemicals, had said that the government had constituted a committee to bring clarity on the issue of single-use plastic which directly impacts multiple industries including consumer goods and pharmaceuticals.

“Though the government has proposed to ban single use plastics, it has to first define what is single-use plastic. In fact, my department has already constituted a committee that has submitted a draft and we are now awaiting comments from various stakeholders. Once definition of single use plastic is formulated, there will be uniform enforcement of it,” Jha said, speaking on the sidelines of a PlastiIndia Foundation event held to announce its 11th edition in 2021.   

Jha said many states had already implemented certain types of plastic ban and the focus now was on creating awareness on the littering of plastics, which is a major problem. “Sensitization has to start right from school,” he said.   

Plastindia Foundation president Jigish Doshi said the government should specify the thickness of polythene carry bags. “The plastic industry is around Rs 4 lakh crore with total consumption of about 17,770 billion tonnes. Implementing the ban would severely impact the plastic industry which currently provides employment to around 10 million people directly and 100 million indirectly and can lead to a Rs 30,000-40,000 crore revenue loss.”

Doshi said the proposed ban should be a gradual process of six months to one year for both the industry and consumers, so that alternatives could be found. According to manufacturers, given the immense value of plastics, instead of banning the focus has to be on increasing recycling of plastics to come up with innovative solutions.

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