Phase out single use plastic, penalise defaulters: Centre to States

SUP alternative

New Delhi: Waking up the commitment of making India free from single use plastic (SUP), the Central Government has asked all the States/ Union Territories and urban local bodies (ULBs) to swing into campaign mode and exhort citizens to join in the efforts to protect environmental degradation and plant trees for healthy living.

The Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) on Saturday issued a detailed advisory to all the concerned bodies to undertake a range of activities and sensitise the people to work for fulfillment of  the mandates–to ban use of SUP.

Large scale cleaning and plogging drives, with special emphasis on plastic waste collection, as well tree plantation drives, with participation of all citizens, including students, voluntary organisations, self-help groups, local non-governmental organisations, NCC cadets, market associations, corporate entities, etc, have been told to join in their respective jurisdictions.

Waste segregation a must

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban 2.0, currently being implemented by MoHUA, plastic waste management, including elimination of SUP, is the focus area. Every ULB is deemed to ensure 100% source segregation of waste, and has access to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for sorting the dry waste (including plastic waste) into further fractions for recycling and/or processing into value added products. The process will also help reduce minimum the amount of plastic and dry waste ending up in dumpsites or water bodies.

CPCB had announced ban of SUP by June 30

AS per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines, all the states are required to phase out SUP by June 30. The task is hard given the motivation level of ULBs. Only, 2,591 out of 4,704 ULBs have so far notified banning SUP by the scheduled date. The latest guidelines issued by MoUHA has directed the States to make sure that all the ULBs adhred to the CPCB direction and identify SUP ‘hotspots’. The State Pollution Control Boards has been asked to set up special enforcement squads and conduct surprise inspections and impose penalties on the defaulters.

As per PWM (Amended) Rules, 2021, the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 75 microns (75µ i.e. 0.075 mm in thickness) has been banned with effect from 30th September, 2021, as against 50 microns (50µ) recommended earlier under PWM Rules, 2016. As a consequence of this new provision, citizens are now encouraged to desist from using thin plastic carry bags provided by street vendors, local shopkeepers, vegetable sellers etc. and use alternative options.

Focus on alternatives to SUP

In accordance with the PWM (Amended) Rules, 2021 a range of complementary initiatives will also be taken up to strengthen enforcement.  ULBs will need to identify SUP-alternatives (such as cloth/jute/plastic bags, degradable cutleries, etc.) readily available in the market and create awareness about such alternatives among citizens.

Corporate entities, dealing with bottled drinks would asked to set up Bottle Banks (where users can get paid for dropping off PET bottles), and develop subsidised reusable plastic bottle booths at different locations, as part of their extended producers’ responsibility (EPR) mandates. Alongside, ULBs have been told to establish Thaila (bag) /Bartan (Utensils) kiosks or bhandars to provide citizens with alternatives to SUP, especially for use in public meetings and festivals, thereby helping to reduce SUP consumption. These initiatives may be strengthened through ‘swachhata raths’ to be deployed in all public places, markets, and other high footfall areas to spread awareness against use of SUP and for availing SUP-alternatives.

MoU for non-hazardous use of plastic waste

States & ULBs have also been advised to enter in to agreements with nearby cement plants or other industrial units to ensure that a part of the plastic waste generated is used either as alternative fuel in cement plants, or for road construction purposes. For the latter purpose, ULBs or their Public Works Departments will need to come out with detailed guidelines for use of SUPs/multi-layered plastics in road construction.

The advisory stressed that large scale campaign, also comprising all citizen categories including elected representatives such as Mayors and ward councillors,  voluntary organisations, local NGOs/ CSOs, Residents’ Welfare Associations, market associations, self-help groups, students and youth groups etc, needed to be identified and engaged with, to carry forward the message of SUP ban and enforcement. “Citizens shall be encouraged to take pledges to not litter plastic and prevent plastics getting into landfills, alongwith reward campaigns to publicise good disposal behavior in media or social networks to encourage others to stop SUP usage.

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