Clearing all decks, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has announced that India is set to ban manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential, all across the country from July 1.
Preparations are afoot, with several government departments gearing up to set up national and state-level control rooms and form special enforcement teams to check any violations.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has already directed the Customs department to prohibit import of any of the notified items, and asked petrochemical industries to stop the supply of plastic raw material to industries engaged in production of the banned items.
An online app has also been launched to enable people to report violations, and make complaints.
“The success of the ban will only be possible through effective engagement and concerted actions by all stakeholders and enthusiastic public participation,” said the ministry on Tuesday.
Several industries as well as small businesses had been requesting the government to push the implementation of the ban by at least six months to a year, citing lack of local supplies of raw material and inadequate infrastructure.
The MSME sector, especially, had highlighted the toll that the ban could take on the 80,000 small businesses across countries. However, with the latest announcement, the ministry had made clear that the ban will come into force as decided.
States and Union Territories have been asked to set up border check points to stop inter-state movement of any banned single-use plastic items. CPCB Grievance Redressal App has been launched to empower citizens to help curb plastic menace. The ministry has also launched Prakriti – mascot for wider outreach.
India notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules (Amendment) Rules, 2021 in August last year banning 19 plastic items identified on the basis of ‘low utility and high littering potential’. The list includes plastic cutlery, straws, stirrers, plastic sticks for candies, balloons, as well as plastic packaging and polystyrene used for decoration.
The ban comes in response to the clarion call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 to phase out single-use plastic items by 2022. According to the environment ministry, the ban is a defining step to curb pollution caused by littered and unmanaged plastic waste.
“The adverse impacts of littered single use plastic items plastic on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including in marine environment are globally recognised. Addressing pollution due to single-use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries,” it stated.
In the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019, India had piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic products pollution, recognising the urgent need for the global community to focus on the issue.
In the recently concluded fifth session of United Nations Environment Assembly in March, India engaged constructively with all member states to develop consensus on the resolution for driving global action on plastic pollution.
The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags less than 75 microns thick with effect from September 30, 2021, and less than 120 microns thick with effect from December 31 this year.