Plastic Waste Current Affairs
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an interim ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags which are less than 50 microns in the entire national capital Delhi.
It also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone found in possession of non-biodegradable plastic bags less than 50 microns, which is the thickness of a human hair.
NGT ordered Delhi government to seize entire stock of the banned plastic bags within a week. Besides, it asked Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Delhi Government to file an affidavit on steps taken to implement the ban. It also imposed an environment compensation of Rs. 10,000 on vegetable vendors and slaughter houses for throwing garbage in public places.
Non-biodegradable plastic waste has been identified as one of the major source of environmental pollution as they don’t decay naturally. These bags have zero reusable value. Besides choking drains, water-bodies and adding to the load of the already-exhausted landfill sites, there are also cases of cattle eating and dying after choking on plastic bags.
According to plastic bag manufacturers, the market share of thin plastic bags (less than 50 microns) is not more than 25%. Mostly the banned bags are made by unregistered units which find many takers because of their cheaper products.
Most of the garbage bags used at homes are above 50 microns. Their use and manufacturing is already banned under the Plastic Management Handling Rules, 2016. The NGT in 2017 had banned the use of disposable plastic in Delhi and NCR with effect from January 1, 2017 and directed the city government to take steps to reduce dumped waste.
As per recently released World Economic Forum (WEF) report, oceans will have more plastics than fish by 2050 if the ongoing practice of dumping plastics continues.
This report has been prepared as part of Project MainStream which is a joint collaboration between the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WEF with support from McKinsey & Company.
WEF Report Highlights
- Every year at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean, which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.
- It has been estimated by researches that presently there are over 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean.
- In the past half-century use of plastics has increased twenty-fold and is expected to double again in the next 20 years.
- Most plastic packaging is used only once and dumping it leads to loss of 95 per cent of the value of plastic packaging material worth 80-120 billion dollars annually.
- It is necessary to take steps for effective after-use pathways for plastics, and to reduce leakage of plastics into natural systems, especially oceans.
Plastic Ban in India
- Under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 selling of merchandise into polythene bags is banned.
- Sikkim was first state in India to achieve the status of plastic bag-free status. Gujarat has announced ban on the use of plastic in the State.
- Uttar Pradesh also has enforced the blanket ban on all varieties of polythene bags, irrespective of their thickness.