India’s mounting plastic challenge
According to the Centre, plastic waste generation has more than doubled in the last five years, with an average annual increase of 21.8%
Many have woken up to India’s plastic waste generation problem after worrying data was presented in Parliament on Monday. But alarm bells have been ringing for a long time. According to the Centre, plastic waste generation has more than doubled in the last five years, with an average annual increase of 21.8%. A 2018-2019 Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report puts India’s annual plastic waste generation at 3.3 million metric tonnes. This, according to experts, is an underestimation. Seven states — Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu — contribute to 66% of the country’s total plastic generation. And, Goa and Delhi’s per capita plastic use is six times higher than the national average.
A 2018 study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, found that 49% of waste in Delhi’s drains was plastic. According to CPCB, 60% of plastic waste is recycled. Of this, 70% is in registered facilities, 20% is by the unorganised sector, and 10% is at homes. But experts refute this claim as well, due to the amount of plastic visibly strewn across India’s cities.
To its credit, India stands out as one of the few countries that has seen a nationwide fight against plastic. From the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 — which banned the use of plastic for sachets, allowed only recyclable plastic, and introduced producer responsibility to collect plastic waste — to the 2018 announcement of the phasing out of single-use plastics by 2022, several policy interventions have indicated the State’s resolve. But since this has proved unsuccessful, drastic measures must be taken. Create a robust national plan, ensure transparency, and involve every stakeholder — from the government and industries, to every last citizen.