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Centre notifies guidelines on plastic packaging

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    24th Feb, 2022

Context

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently published the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022 through which it has notified the guidelines on extended procedure responsibility for plastic packaging.

Dabur India, the largest Science-based Ayurveda major in the country, has now become a complete 'Plastic Waste Neutral company' in India, after it collected, processed and recycled nearly 27,000 metric tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste in 2021-22 financial year.

About

  • What is Plastic? And Plastic Pollution?
  • Plastic is a synthetic polymer made of gasoline with structures suitable for various uses, including packaging, construction and construction, household and sports equipment, automobiles, electronics and agriculture.
  • Plastic is cheap, lightweight, strong and soft.
  • More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually, half of which are used to design consumer goods, such as shopping bags, cups and straw.
  • Only 9% of recycled plastic waste. About 12% burned, while 79% accumulated in landfills.
  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at least eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year.
  • Pollution due to the use of plastic materials has become an important environmental challenge facing all countries.
  • According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India produces over 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day. 

Single-use plastic

Single-use plastic has been defined as disposable plastics that are commonly used for packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.

New Amendments in Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022:

  • The term “extended procedure responsibility” refers to a manufacturer’s responsibility for the environmentally sound management of a product until it reaches the end of its useful life.
    • The recommendations lay out a framework for putting Extended Producer Responsibility into action.
    • Producers, importers, brand owners, the Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Boards or Pollution Control Committees, recyclers, and waste processors all have roles and responsibilities under the Extended Producer Responsibility Guidelines. 
  • According to the new rules, plastics have been classified into four categories:
    1. Category one will include rigid plastic packaging;
    2. Category two will include flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches.
    3. Category three will include multi-layered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic)
    4. Category four will include plastic sheet or like used for packaging as well as carry bags made of compostable plastics.
  • Specifications for reuse, recycling, use of recycled plastic content, and end-of-life disposal of non-recyclable plastic packaging also featured in the EPR.
  • The ministry has also called for setting up a centralised online portal by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the registration as well as filing of annual returns by producers, importers and brand-owners, plastic waste processors of plastic packaging waste.
  • The EPR target will be increased to 70% in 2022-23 and 100% from 2023-24 onwards.
  • The recycling obligation for producers will be 50% for rigid plastics in 2024-25, 60% in 2025-26, 70% in 2026-27, and 80% from 2027-28 onwards. 

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Regulations, 2021:

  • The Department of Environment has introduced the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Regulations, 2021.
  • These laws prohibit certain types of plastic items that are used and have 'low use and high waste disposal capacity' by 2022.
  • The permissible size of plastic bags, currently 50 microns, will be increased to 75 microns from September 30, 2021, and to 120 microns from December 31, 2022.
  • High-strength plastic bags are easily treated as waste and have high recycling performance.
  • At the policy level, the concept of Extended Product Responsibility (EPR), already mentioned under the 2016 Regulations, should be promoted.
  • EPR is a policy in which producers are given significant, financial and / or physical responsibility for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board, together with state pollution agencies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose fines already imposed under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.

Recent initiative to end plastic pollution

  • Global Tourism Plastics Initiative: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), announced the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative. The Global Tourism Plastics initiative aims to reduce plastic pollution from the tourism sector through a set of actionable commitments by 2025.
  • GloLitter Partnerships Project: Launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as well. the first subsidy from the Norwegian Government.
    • Purpose: To prevent and reduce marine plastic waste from shipping and fisheries.
    • It will also assist developing countries in reducing marine waste, including plastic waste, from the maritime and fisheries sector, and reducing the use of plastic in these industries.
    • Also help identify potential recycling and recycling of plastics.
    • Thirty countries including India have joined this global marine pollution program.
  • India Plastics Pact (IPP): India has become the first Asian country to develop a plastics pact, launching a ground-breaking new initiative to bring together leading businesses at a national level to make commitments for building a circular system for plastics.
    • The India Plastics Pact (IPP) has launched as a collaboration between:
      • WWF India
      • the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)
  • India has pledged to prohibit Single Use Plastics with the aim of liberating India of once-used plastics by 2022.
  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan laid the foundation for the next iteration of the plastic rules.
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