2 years after new rules, plastic wrappers continue to choke Delhi’s drains
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, notified by the union ministry in March 2016, had introduced several new features such as the EPR to pin responsibility on producers and generators in the plastic waste management system, and brought about a collect-back system to deal with such waste.Updated: Jul 31, 2018 14:20 IST
Two years after the new Plastic Waste Management Rules came into effect, proposing to fix extended producers’ responsibility (EPR) to deal with packaging waste, such wrappers continue to choke Delhi’s drains and contaminate water and soil.
A survey conducted by urban planners and researchers from IIT-Kharagpur on Delhi’s overflowing drains showed the failure of agencies to implement the rule that might help tackle packaging waste.
The survey found that 22.1% of the silt in Delhi’s drains comprised only gutkha and pan masala packets that cling to bell mouths, blocking the flow of rain water.
This multi-layered packaging constitutes not just plastic but also metal fibres that make it non-recyclable. When these are stuck at bell mouths of drains and in storm water drains, these wrappers blocks the flow of rain water, causing waterlogging on roads.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, notified by the union ministry in March 2016, had introduced several new features such as the EPR to pin responsibility on producers and generators in the plastic waste management system, and brought about a collect-back system to deal with such waste.
Despite a solution under the rule, municipal and road-owning agencies have been fighting the problem of plastic waste blocking the city’s drains for years now.
Officials said the issue of plastic bags and wrappers restricting the flow of water had been highlighted in monsoon preparedness meetings conducted by the agencies this year.
The Public Works Department (PWD) has prepared a report on mechanised sweeping solutions for cleaning storm drains where large quantities of waste is dumped.
“Mechanised sweeping was suggested as an option to tackle such waste. No matter how much the drains are cleared before monsoon, we have to deal with flooded roads. In many cases, plastic bags float with water and get clogged in the bell mouths, reducing the draining capacity,” said a senior PWD official.
The official said the department had proposed heavy fine for dumping municipal solid waste and construction debris directly into drains.
Environment experts said gutkha, pan masala, milk and snack wrappers comprise 40% of Delhi’s plastic waste. Experts say had the rule been enforced, it would have brought a sea change in how plastic waste is managed.
The uncollected waste majorly comprises such packs because they cannot be recycled like regular plastic and remain strewn on the sides of the road because of its zero value.
“This only has the value of litter. When you throw a bottle of packaged water or soft drink, some waste picker will pick it up because it can be recycled. Such wrappers will not fetch them anything,” said Swati Singh Sambyal, a specialist in municipal waste management and environmental governance at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Sambyal said packaging waste is only a part of the primary problem of improper waste management in the city. She said the basics of waste segregation and management needs to be put in place for such systems to work.
“We still haven’t started segregating our waste. If we want to even fix EPR it will fail because of contaminated plastic. If the wrappers are thrown along with your regular household waste, they will have to spend extra money in cleaning the dirty wrappers. This process will be more tedious,” she said.
First Published: Jul 31, 2018 14:20 IST