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India announces statistics for plastic waste problem and implemented solutions

Indicates potential for plastic waste recycling

Around 34.7 lakh tonnes per annum (TPA) of plastic wastes was generated by India during 2019-20, Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ashwini Kumar Choubey recently told the Lok Sabha. He also added that 15.8 lakh TPA of the plastic waste was recycled and 1.67 lakh TPA was co-processed, which makes it around 50% of the total plastic waste produced that was recycled.

The minister also said that the number of registered plastic waste processors under Plastic Waste Management Rules is 1,419. He was referring to the annual report by the central pollution control board for 2019-20. Referring to another study by the National Center for Coastal
Research, he said that the plastic litter collected from beaches varies from 40% to 96%.

“The Ministry under its central sector scheme ‘Creation of Management Structures for Hazardous Substances’ provides financial assistance for innovative technologies for environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes”, Choubey said.

Recently, India banned the 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, 2022. The list of banned items includes – earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Report (2019- 20) had stated that 3.5 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated in India annually. Speaking about a 2021 United Nations paper and several media reports, 77 countries in the world had passed full or partial ban on plastic bags.

In India, the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016 and 2018 and the recently announced amendment of 2021 focus on single-use plastics. The rules detail the various categories of plastics and recommend recycling methods based on the type of plastic polymer used.

Various manufacturing industries across the globe produce 400 million tonnes of plastic waste per year, with the packaging industry being the largest contributor. Recently, Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh had said that more than 200 tonnes of garbage, mainly single-use plastic, have been removed from the sea coasts during the first 20 days of the ongoing Coastal Clean-Up campaign.

Singh reviewed the progress of the 75-day campaign that was launched on July 5 and aimed at removing 1,500 tonnes of garbage from the 7,500-km long coastline of the country by September 17, which is observed as International Coastal Clean-up Day.

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