Green Initiatives for Effective Plastic Waste Management

Why in News?

Recently, the Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) introduced the Awareness Mascot ‘Prakriti’ and Green Initiatives for Effective Plastic Waste Management.

  • The mascot will spread greater awareness among masses regarding small changes that can be sustainably adopted in our lifestyle for a better environment.
  • Earlier in February, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change notified the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022.

What are the Green Initiatives Launched?

  • National Dashboard on Elimination of Single Use Plastic (SUP) and Plastic Waste Management by MoEFCC to bring all stakeholders including Central Ministries and Departments, State and UT Governments at one place and monitor the progress made for elimination of SUP and effective management of plastic waste.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Portal by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for Plastic Packaging, improving accountability, traceability, transparency and facilitating ease of reporting compliance to EPR Obligations by Producers, Importers and Brandowners.
  • Mobile App for Single Use Plastics Grievance Redressal by CPCB in order to empower citizens to check sale/usage/manufacturing of SUP in their area and address the plastic menace.
  • Monitoring module for Single Use Plastics (SUPs) by CPCB for local bodies, State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and CPCB, to record details of SUP production/ sale and usage in commercial establishments at district level and on-ground enforcement of ban on SUP.
  • Industrial production of Graphene from Waste Plastic by National Institute of Health and Environment & National Research Development Corporation to encourage more industries to come forward to upcycle plastic waste.

What is Plastic Waste?

  • Unlike other forms of wastes like paper, food peels, leaves etc which are biodegradable (capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms) in nature, plastic waste because of its non-biodegradable nature stays into the environment for hundreds (or even thousands) of years.
  • Plastic pollution is caused by the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment. It can be categorised in primary plastics, like cigarette butts and bottle caps, and secondary plastics, occur from the degradation of the primary ones.
  • Plastic has become one of the most crucial environmental issues that we are facing today.
  • India is producing about 3.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually and the per capita plastic waste generation has almost doubled in the last five years.
  • Plastic pollution adversely affects our ecosystems and is also connected to air pollution.

Major Challenges to Plastic Waste Management-

  • Mismanaged Plastic Waste (plastic dumped openly)- In the form of microplastics/microbeads when plastic penetrate the environment via inland waterways, wastewater outflows, and transport by wind or tides cannot all be filtered out once it reaches the ocean.
  • As plastics travel with ocean currents, an island of trash called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been formed.
  • Spurious Biodegradable Plastic- Due to unavailability of robust testing and certification to verify claims made by producers, spurious biodegradable and compostable plastics are entering the marketplace.
  • Online or E-Commerce Companies- Apart from the plastic we consume through traditional retail, the popularity of online retail and food delivery apps, though restricted to only big cities, is contributing to the rise in plastic waste.
  • Microplastics- After entering into the aquatic environment, microplastics can travel huge distances floating in seawater, or sediment to the seabed. As per a recent study, microplastics in the atmosphere are trapped by the clouds and the falling snow.
  • Microplastic particles are often white or opaque in colour, which are frequently mistaken by many surface-feeding fishes as food (plankton) and can even move up the food chain to human consumers (from eating contaminated fish/seafood/shellfish).
  • Marine Litter- Plastic pollution in freshwater and marine environments has been identified as a worldwide problem and it is estimated that plastic pollution accounts for 60-80% of marine plastic waste.
  • Terrestrial Plastic- 80% of plastic pollution originates from land-based sources and the remaining coming from ocean-based sources (fishing nets, fishing ropes).

Way Forward-

  • Raising awareness amongst the public of the harm caused by plastic pollution through education and outreach programs to change behaviour.
  • Finding substitutes for use-and-throw plastic, along with ensuring alternative livelihoods for producers, waste pickers and other groups involved in the business will go a long way in solving the problem.
  • The government should not only impose fines for not adhering to the guidelines but incentivise producers to switch to more sustainable products. Along with proper monitoring, promoting responsible consumerism is more important.
  • Identify and engage key stakeholder groups such as retailers, consumers, industry representatives, local government, manufacturers, civil society, environmental groups and tourism associations in order to ensure broad buy-in.
  • There is a big role of Citizens, they have to bring behavioural change and contribute by not littering and helping in waste segregation and waste management.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *