Banning Single-use Plastic – A Silver Bullet To End India’s Plastic Menace?

Banning Single-use Plastic in India

There is no denying the fact that plastic has become an increasingly unmanageable menace that is literally choking our planet. While governments across the globe, including the Union Govt. of India, are striving hard to introduce a slew of policy measures to contain this menace, getting rid of the ubiquitous plastic is easier said than done.

As per the Central Pollution Control Board, India generates a whopping 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste every day and considering a FICCI study that estimates India’s plastic processing industry to grow to 22 MT per year by 2020, India has a gargantuan task at hand to curb plastic waste.

Amongst a slew of policy measures to curtail the country’s plastic woes, India recently amended its Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and introduced a more obligatory Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018 to achieve Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of phasing out single-use plastic by 2022.

The new rules have introduced an unambiguous clause of ‘extended producer’s responsibility’ that now makes every plastic producer (manufacturers, importers and those using plastic in packaging) responsible for the “environmentally sound management of the plastic product until the end of its life.”

To ensure enforceability, every plastic producer has to mandatorily apply for a registration certificate for recycling or processing the plastic waste (produced by him) with his respective State’s Pollution Control Board/ Pollution Control Committee. The registration certificate is granted only upon the plastic producer submitting an action plan for setting up a plastic waste management system that is endorsed by the Urban Development Secretary of the concerned State or Union Territory.

While it is indeed a great step to extend the responsibility of end-to-end waste management to every single plastic producer in the country, merely introducing deterring measures would not suffice in curbing the production and usage of single-use plastic in the country.

To truly incentivize plastic producers for being environmentally responsible, India should introduce a transparent, market-based ecosystem that offers a financial incentive to plastic producers to ensure effective checks and balances in responsible plastic production and disposal.

Such a market system already exists in Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s recently launched Emissions Permit Trading System (EPTS) that allows the State’s industrial units to freely trade their surplus (suspended particulate matter) emission credits with other needy industrial units – just like any other commodity. India has achieved a global first in this! Can such a market-based system galvanize the Indian plastic industry to do more about plastic waste management? We think it will. Let us know what you think about a transparent market-based ecosystem dedicated for plastic waste management.

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