Single-Use Plastics in India

GS-3 Mains

Revision Notes 

Question : Examine the challenges associated with the regulation and management of single-use plastics.

About Single-Use Plastics

  • Widely used in daily lives (packaging, consumer goods)
  • Discarded after single use
  • Major environmental concern due to non-degradability

Global Plastic Problem

  • Invented in 1907, became popular due to affordability, durability, and aesthetics
  • Major applications: food & beverages, bottle caps, plastic bags, straws etc.
  • Non-degradable nature leads to environmental challenges

Challenges Associated with Single-Use Plastics

  • Enforcement and Compliance: Difficult to ensure people follow regulations
  • Waste Management: Lack of organized system leads to littering
  • Economic Impact: Alternatives are expensive, burdening retailers and consumers
  • Health Risks: Microplastics, non-biodegradability, and carbon footprint pose health risks

India’s Efforts

  • Regulatory Measures
    • 2022 Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules banned 19 categories (cutlery, cups, earbuds etc.)
    • Doesn’t include plastic bottles or multi-layered packaging
    • Inconsistent enforcement, limited impact (addresses 11% of single-use plastic)
  • International Commitments
    • UNEA member: signed resolution for legally binding agreement on plastic life cycle
  • Public Awareness and Participation
    • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) promotes waste management and plastic minimization
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
    • Policies hold producers responsible for product disposal, incentivizing eco-friendly designs

The Road Ahead

  • Upcoming U.N. meeting to discuss problematic and avoidable plastic products
  • Aim: Implement measures to remove these products, reduce production, and redesign them
  • India proposes ‘regulating’ instead of banning production and sale
  • Agrees to ‘science-based criteria’ for identifying problematic plastics


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