If you are an Indian and live with your parents, you probably have a large plastic bag full of small plastic bags placed somewhere in your house; in the kitchen or behind the bedroom door or maybe even under your bed. Although a common perception among many Indian families, the Central Pollution Control Board estimates that India produces about 25,940 tons of plastic waste a day and 9.46 million tons of plastic waste per year. In this case, about 60 percent of plastic waste is recycled, while the rest is non-recyclable.
We produce millions of tons of plastic every year, most of which cannot be reused. Single-use plastic includes plastic bags, polythene, straws, plastic glass, sodas and water bottles, food packaging etc. These once-used plastics are used only once and then disposed of as recyclable waste. Most recyclable plastics that are discarded after use only once, are not recycled. They do not rot and often enter the landfill site where they are buried or enter the water and after some time in various ways enter the sea. They penetrate the soil and bodies of water and decompose into tiny particles, but they do not decompose. They live in land and water for over a hundred years and emit toxic chemicals and thus damage our beautiful planet and the environment. Plastic bags that enter the body of water are a major cause of water pollution. This degrades our environment and nature in every way.
India is now trying to stand firm against plastic and plastic pollution, in a way that prevents the sale and use of single-use plastics (SUP). SUP is defined as any plastic material that is intended for use and for the same purpose before being discarded or reused.The Department of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has introduced a new set of guidelines – Plastic Waste Management Amendment Regulations, 2021. This will replace the Plastic Pollution Control Act, 2016 (PWM Rules, 2016) as amended in 2018. In June 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said India would abolish SUP by 2022. This was reinforced during the fourth United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) held in March 2019, where India took two decisions – one on SUPs and Sustainable Nitrogen management. This has helped to acknowledge the urgent need for the international community to address this critical issue and to become an important step in India as well.
For all the discussed reasons and more, it is our responsibility towards our environment, the planet and all living things to stop using plastic especially SUP so that they can be happy, healthy and prosperous.