Ever since plastic gained its commercial development in the 1950s it has touched skies with its success. But from an occasional usage, it has been intervening with our lives and health and more on the environment and its beings. With the increase in technology, the use of plastic has drastically increased and it has been damaging the environment, sea life, and human health on a global scale. Making it crucial for every sector to take preventive measures is what it requires now to eliminate the use of plastic. As plastic has been used mostly in packaging, water bottles, cutlery items, carry bags and whatnot. The use of single-use plastic (SUP) is the major factor in degrading the environment.
SUP and its impacts?
SUPs refer to the Single-use Plastic used in daily-use products that have a life far more than human beings and being non-biodegradable waste makes it float in the oceans and stuck in this world causing nothing but harm and degradation. As per the statement of Aditya Dubey, a petitioner who is a young environmentalist, "Single-use plastic breaks down into smaller fragments known as microplastics and then contaminate our soil and water". Burning of single-use plastic or just plastic leads to the emission of toxic chemicals and gases which are straight away the worst for the respiratory system, lungs, and so much more. A single-use simply means something which can be used once and then it is to be discarded, for example, water bottles, straws, cups, carry bags, etc.
The IEEP’s and European Commission’s definition says single-use plastics can include any disposable plastic item designed to be used only once. Also, more than 60 nations have taken initiatives and started acting upon the measures to reduce the use of single-use plastics by imposing bans, taxes, and fines according to a United Nations report. India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi declared in 2018 to phase off all single-use plastic by 2022, as India is second in number with the highest population, abolishing single-use plastic will act as a global impact.
Only 40% of the country’s plastic is recycled with 10 regional policies already in place, a country-wide ban could further reinforce the existing rules and ensure that all regions are doing their part to end plastic pollution.
Salient features of Plastic Waste Management (PWM Rules), 2016
- These rules shall apply to every Waste Generator, Local Body, Gram Panchayat, Manufacturer, Importer, Producer and Brand Owner.
- Carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic, shall not be less than fifty microns in thickness. The provision of thickness shall not be applicable to carry bags made up of Compostable plastic, complying IS/ISO: 17088.
- Waste Generators including institutional generators, event organizers shall not litter the plastic waste, shall segregate waste and handover to authorized agency and shall pay user fee as prescribed by ULB and spot fine in case of violation.
- Local Bodies shall encourage the use of plastic waste for road construction or energy recovery or waste to oil or co-processing in cement kilns etc. It shall be responsible for the development and setting up of infrastructure for segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of the plastic waste either on its own or by engaging agencies or producers
- Gram Panchayat either on its own or by engaging an agency shall set up, operationalize and coordinate for waste management in the rural area under their control and for performing the associated functions, namely, ensuring segregation, collection, storage, transportation, plastic waste and channelization of recyclable plastic waste fraction to recyclers having valid registration; ensuring that no damage is caused to the environment during this process; creating awareness among all stakeholders about their responsibilities; and ensuring that open burning of plastic waste does not take place
- Producer, Importers and Brand Owners need to work out modalities for waste collection system for collecting back the plastic waste within a period of six months in consultation with local authority/State Urban Development Department and implement with two years thereafter.
- State Pollution Control Board (SPCB)/ Pollution Control Committee (PCC) shall be the authority for enforcement of the provisions of PWM Rules, 2016, relating to registration, manufacture of plastic products and multi-layered packaging, processing and disposal of plastic wastes.
- Concerned Secretary-in-charge of Urban Development of the State or a Union Territory and concerned Gram Panchayat in the rural area of the State or a Union Territory shall be the authority for enforcement of the provisions of PWM Rules, Rules relating to waste management by waste generator, use of plastic carry bags, plastic sheets or like, covers made of plastic sheets and multilayered packaging.
- District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner shall provide the assistance to SPCBs/PCCs, Secretary-in- Charge, Urban Development Department and Gram Panchayat under his jurisdiction, whenever required for enforcement of provisions of PWM Rules, 2016.
Companies affecting the use of plastic
Online delivering companies such as Amazon, Flipkart, and many more are making things easy for their customers but their delivery methods including excessive packaging materials are ruining the environment at a huge level. Such companies deliver their products wrapped in plastic bubble wraps which are single-use plastics and need to be thrown out right away as for violating the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. The complaint is not only for products taking space that are being wrapped in plastic but they even tend to send the littlest of the products in big boxes stuffed and wrapped doubly in bubble wraps and plastics just to fill in the left space.
However easy, it is making the climate worse and being huge companies sending over 1 million deliveries a day is highly liable to protect the environment and take the required steps to make things better on their side.
As per section 9 of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 Responsibility of Producers, Importers and Brand Owners.-
- The producers, within a period of six months from the date of publication of these rules, shall work out modalities for waste collection system based on Extended Producers Responsibility and involving State Urban Development Departments, either individually or collectively, through their own distribution channel or through the local body concerned.
- Primary responsibility for collection of used multi-layered plastic sachet or pouches or packaging is of Producers, Importers and Brand Owners who introduce the products in the market. They need to establish a system for collecting back the plastic waste generated due to their products. This plan of collection to be submitted to the State Pollution Control Boards while applying for Consent to Establish or Operate or Renewal. The Brand Owners whose consent has been renewed before the notification of these rules shall submit such plan within one year from the date of notification of these rules and implement with two years thereafter.
- Manufacture and use of non- recyclable multilayered plastic if any should be phased out in two years time.
- The producer, within a period of three months from the date of final publication of these rules in the Official Gazette, shall apply to the Pollution Control Board or the Pollution Control Committee, as the case may be, of the States or the Union Territories administration concerned, for grant of registration.
- No producer shall on and after the expiry of a period of Six Months from the date of final publication of these rules in the Official Gazette manufacture or use any plastic or multilayered packaging for packaging of commodities without registration from the concerned State Pollution Control Board or the Pollution Control Committees.
- Every producer shall maintain a record of details of the person engaged in the supply of plastic used as raw material to manufacture carry bags or plastic sheet or like or cover made of plastic sheet or multilayered packaging.
Measures to be taken by Companies
There are many ways a company can tune in to the no-usage of plastic and SUPs easily by taking certain steps and making certain changes happen. For once a committee/a group/or an audit might act as the flickers of the necessary movement to be made successful. Such as, to make sure everything goes in the right way and also considering the law, it is essential to have a group of people or an audit made for the right procedures.
Run a waste audit and record all the different types of waste thrown by your company. By following this procedure, it makes the results easily changeable and making sure what goes in that bin. One can also organize an event in the name of how much plastic an employee discards, and simply punishing them by giving them extra work of an hour or asking them to pay fine per plastic bottle or simply rewarding them for the right usage might bring in a few changes needed. Sharing results with the staff and maintaining a board of waste management might act as the ultimatum. One step that might help with a huge factor is having the water tap or cooler for drinking water with glasses of metal instead of plastic cups. What once could do better than glasses is to bring their reusable bottles and dispose of all the single-use plastic bottles and cups. One can simply gain on with this aspect by providing all the employees with reusable mugs and bottles is the simplest and easy way to avoid single-use plastic.