To encourage use of alternatives of plastics, government think-tank NITI Aayog has suggested strengthening waste minimisation through extended producer responsibility, proper labelling and collection of compostable and biodegradable plastics.
In a report titled ‘Alternative Products and Technologies to Plastics and their Applications’, the Aayog also suggested providing for a relaxation period for adoption of biodegradable plastics.
The ban on certain single-use plastic items kicks in from Friday, with state governments initiating an enforcement drive to identify and close down units engaged in production, distribution, stocking and sale of such items. Single-Use Plastics (SUP), often referred to as disposable plastics, are commonly used for plastic packaging and include items intended to be used only once before being thrown away or recycled.
Noting that plastic is the classic example of a boon turning bane in the society, the report said, “Once proved to be a miracle, plastic has become a peril to nature in several terms that affect marine life to land resources.” “The most preferred option for the management of waste is waste minimisation…(there is need of) strengthening waste minimisation through extended producer responsibility,” it said.
Stressing on the need of proper labelling and collection of compostable and biodegradable plastics, the report also pitched for encouraging R&D and incentivising the manufacturing sector.
It pointed out that between 1950–2015, the cumulative production of polymers, synthetic fibre and additives was 8,300 million tonnes, of which 4,600 million tonnes (55 per cent) went straight to landfills or were discarded, 700 million tonnes (8 per cent) incinerated, and only 500 million tonnes (6 per cent) was recycled.
“By 2050, as per current production and waste management trends, had it continued at the same rate, it would have generated 12,000 MT,” the report noted.
India produced 3.47 million tonnes of plastics waste per annum, as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report, with the per capita waste growing from 700 grams to 2,500 grams over the last five years.
Unfortunately, only a small amount of this plastic waste gets recycled, the report said, adding that a majority of this waste leaks into the environment through various polluting pathways.
As per the report, India collects only 60 per cent of its plastic waste with the rest 40 per cent remaining uncollected and enters the environment directly as waste.