New Delhi, June 8: India is taking all steps to ensure that the country becomes free of single-use plastic by 2022 as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday while launching ‘Plastic Hackathon 2021’ campaign. Kick-starting the two-month long awareness campaign on single-use plastics (SUPs), Javadekar, in an audio message, said the Environment Ministry has taken several steps towards eliminating single-use plastic from the country.
“Prime Minister Modi pledged to make the country free of single use plastic. We took several steps in that direction. The import of plastic waste has been banned. The states have been directed to ensure no use of SUP. Several states have already stopped using SUP,” he said. “We have notified plastic waste management rules under which plastic below 40 microns thickness cannot be used. We have also directed states to take action against companies producing plastic carry bags under 40-micron thickness, the minister added.
Announcing the campaign, he said it will help finding suitable alternatives to SUP and identify new ways of plastic waste management. “We are organising a Plastic Hackathon 2021. It will deliberate on plastic waste management, its collection and what new products can be made out of it. Suitable alternative to SUP will also be discussed in this hackathon. Essay competitions will be organised for school kids. Till the time online classes are going on for schools and colleges, such activities will be enjoyed by students and they can participate with full enthusiasm,” Javadekar said.
Before the minister’s message, a virtual event was organised by FICCI where Environment Secretary R P Gupta said the campaign is an effort to raise the capacity of various stakeholders with respect to plastic pollution. “It will be a two-month long campaign with a series of events on reducing plastic waste generation, recognising the need of effective plastic waste management, increasing the awareness of suitable alternatives, sustainable consumption and production and extended producer responsibility (EPR),” Gupta said.
The campaign is being organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Internationale Zusammenarbeit), a German organisation working jointly with partners in India for sustainable economic, ecological, and social development. Gupta said intensive efforts have been put in by the ministry to raise awareness and sensitise citizens on the environmental impact of SUP.
“The government is providing support to states for developing adequate waste management infrastructure for solid and plastic waste management through flagship Swachh Bharat Mission scheme, he said. Considering the adverse impacts of littered plastic waste on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the prime minister gave a clarion call in 2019 to phase out single-use plastics by 2022.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had notified Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, for handling plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner. Further, the ministry has issued a draft notification on March 11, 2021 for amending the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, with respect to prohibiting identified SUP items following a phase-out schedule in 2022.
Littered plastic waste on land is recognised as a major source of marine plastic litter. Plastic waste management on land will significantly contribute to the reduction in the generation of marine plastic litter, ministry sources said. FICCI Secretary General Dilip Chenoy said the campaign is being launched on the auspicious occasion of World Oceans Day and that FICCI will put its best efforts in making it a success.
The United Nations has designated June 8 as World Oceans Day. The UNEP and GIZ India are the knowledge partners and FICCI is the industry partner for the campaign.