The Plastic Crisis in India
12 Jul 2021
It isn’t uncommon for us to see piles of garbage in our country. But what’s
surprising or not is that most of this garbage is full of plastics. We can see many
dumping sites packed with plastic wastes such as wrappers, packaging material,
polybags, plastic cups and other debris of our daily lives.
India generates about 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily. This makes it the
15th biggest polluter of plastics in the world. The ubiquitous use of plastics has
made it difficult for the government to manage the increasing amount of plastic
waste. Over 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste remain uncollected daily. This waste
then accumulates in our environment like in the oceans or seas and pollutes
them. According to a global material study, 79 per cent of the plastics produced
in the world enters as waste in the environment. But, only 9 per cent of plastic
waste is being recycled. A report by CPCB (Central Pollution Control Body)
states that the annual production of plastic wastes in India is a colossal 3.3
million metric tons per year. As scary as this is, the consumption of plastics is
on the rise in the country.
The increase in plastic consumption is because of urbanisation, the expansion of
retail chains, plastic packaging for grocery, vegetable products, consumer items
and cosmetics. The soaring popularity of food delivery services and online retail
has further aggravated the plastic problem. Several e-commerce companies have
also been scrutinised for their use of plastic packaging.
The Indian government set an enthusiastic target of banishing disposable or
single-use plastics by 2022. Since then, the central and state governments
implemented measures to prevent the use of plastics. Many states banned the
use of disposable plastics. But such interventions do not seem to be effective.
Several cities and towns have failed to implement the provisions of the PWR or
the Plastic waste management rules of 2016. It imposes an "external producers’
responsibility” because of which the manufacturers or retailers are legally
obligated to collect the plastic waste generated by them. Yet, banishing the use
of plastics is not the ultimate solution. The different stakeholders involved in
the process, such as the manufacturers, need to be provided with cheaper
packaging material alternatives. This will ensure the feasibility of banning
plastics as it will not necessarily affect the economy.