- While Maharashtra may be gearing up for a stringent ban on plastic, experience from across the country suggests that States’ claims on reigning in plastic are stronger on paper than on the ground.
- According to the Centre’s Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, all States have to annually apprise the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the steps taken to reign in plastic use, whether a ban is in force, and the strength and performance of a recycler and waste-processing network. The latest such report — as of July 2016 — notes that only 24 States and Union Territories have complied with these directions.
- No such state has complete ban on Plastic.
- The law requires that all plastic waste recyclers register themselves but there were around 312 unregistered plastic manufacturing/recycling units in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Manipur, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttrakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
- It is observed that most of the States/UTs have not set-up proper monitoring system for use of carry bags as per the specified guidelines.
- It has been observed that those States/UTs, who have imposed complete ban on use and sale of plastic carry bags, the plastic bags are stocked, sold and used indiscriminately.
- Besides, substandard carry bags (<50 micron) are used widely in other States/UTs, violating PWM Rules, 2016.
- India generates an estimated 32 million metric tonnes of packaging waste each year, of which plastic waste constitutes 16%. But only 60% of the collected plastic waste is recycled.
- Around 43% of manufactured plastics are used for packaging, most of it “single-use” plastic. So far, not a single one of the 24 States that report their plastic waste management performance have plans in place to tackle single use plastics.
- Maharashtra’s initiative is laudable, it still hinges on extremely efficient enforcement. “Maharashtra has increased its collection centres in the last three months but the problem remains — what alternatives exist to single use plastics?”
- The manpower requirements and enforcement challenges are enormous.
- Kerala and Sikkim are the States with the most creditable plastic waste management policies.
- “Sikkim has a system of buying back plastic from consumers. Maharashtra needs to implement such a system.