A ban on a range of single use plastic items has come into force across India as of July 1.
The ban targets a range of "items with low utility and a high littering potential" including ear swabs with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, polystyrene (Thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, plastic cutlery, straws, trays, wrapping or packing films around candy boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns and stirrers.
Aiming to curb the worsening pollution caused by littered and unmanaged plastic waste in this nation of nearly 1.4 billion people, the new ban covers the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of the 19 items listed. Thousands of other plastic products — like bottles for water or soda or bags of chips — aren't covered by the ban, although the federal government has set targets for manufacturers to be responsible for recycling or disposing of them after their use.
Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said at a news briefing in New Delhi July 1 that the ban had been in the pipeline for a year.
“Now, that time is up,” he said.
Previously, under the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, India also prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic retail bags having a thickness of less than 75 microns, a measure that went into effect at the end of September of 2021. Bags with thicknesses of less than 120 microns will no longer be permitted starting at the end of 2022.
New guidelines on Extended Producer Responsibility for plastic packaging are also in the making. EPR holds producers responsible for the collection and recycling of specified volumes of plastic that they produce and place into the market until the end of that plastic’s life.
Capacity building workshops are being organized for the micro, small and medium enterprise — MSME — units offering technical assistance on the manufacturing of alternatives for the banned single use plastic items. Provisions have also been made to support such enterprises in transitioning away from the use of banned single use plastics.
The government announced that it had also taken steps to promote innovation and provide an ecosystem for accelerated penetration and availability of alternatives all across the country.
National and state level control rooms will be set up and special enforcement teams will be formed for checking illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of banned single use plastic items. States and Union Territories have been asked to set up border check points to stop inter-state movement of any banned single use plastic items.