BMC has done nothing to recycle and segregate its plastic waste, says Mumbai citizens’ group
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has still not done anything to segregate or recycle its plastic waste. A citizens’ group complained that all the waste is ending up either at landfills or in the sea.
The group, Watchdog Foundation, which studied the waste dumped at the Deonar, Mulund and Kanjurmarg landfills, filed a complaint with the BMC on Wednesday saying that Mumbai did not have a single plastic waste management facility.
In March 2016, the Centre came up with the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, to bring down plastic waste. According to the Union environment ministry, India generates 16,000 metric tonnes (MT) of plastic was daily. Of this, 10,000 MT is collected and processed, and the rest ends up in dumps and drains that empty into the sea. BMC estimates that of the 8,000-8,300 MT tonnes of garbage generated by Mumbai, 750 MT is plastic.
“As per rules 5 and 6 of the new plastic law, the BMC is responsible for development and setting up of infrastructure for segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste, either on its own or by engaging agencies or producers. It is also ensure that the environment is not affected. However, none of these guidelines are being followed,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation, adding that all the plastic ultimately reaches Mumbai’s coastline, making it one of most polluted coastlines in the world.
As part of the complaint, Pimenta attached images of the truckloads of plastic being dumped from nullahs at Marol into the Mithi river daily.
He added that BMC needed to frame bylaws that incorporates the new rules, but this has not been done so far. “The city does not have separate plastic collection bins or plastic waste management facilities. Rag pickers collect PET bottles, milk pouches and plastic bags and sell them to recycling units across the city, but this accounts for only 5-6% of the plastic waste,” said Pimenta.
The BMC allocated Rs 2,280 crore as part of its budget for solid waste management this year, which also happens to be the highest budgetary allocation as opposed to previous years.
BMC officials said according to the new rules, plastic is being segregated at 32 waste segregation centres in the city, along with wet and dry waste and an additional 32 centres will be active by the end of this year.
“While there are no plastic manufacturing units in Mumbai, there are many in the outskirts. So, a lot of plastic, mostly below 50 microns, is brought into the city undetected,” said a senior official from BMC’s solid waste management department. “The new rules clearly establish that plastic needs to be segregated at the source, which is not happening. Thus, there is more need for awareness at the household level to segregate waste into three categories – dry, waste and plastic.”
“The Ministry has issued stricter guidelines for plastic recycling last year. While bulk producers understand the responsibility of sustainable use, small producers are either unaware or do not know the law,” said RR Rashmi additional secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. “Implementation at the ground level has been less than adequate and the state governments need to create more public awareness.”
PLASTIC MANUFACTURER SPEAKS
“While the Union environment ministry notified Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, the onus of on-ground implementation lies with the Union ministry of urban development. While preliminary guidelines have been issued, the specific guidelines for how municipal corporations are supposed to treat plastic are still being drafted. Once these specific rules are issued, the matter will be much easier to tackle at megacity levels,” said Akhilesh Bhargava, chairman, environment, All India Plastic Manufacturers Association.