Single-use plastic ban in India – a scam?
The government of India has declared and implemented a single-use plastic (SUP) ban many times on various groups of products (SUPs) each time. The step is to stop plastic littering and pollution as a part of “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” initiated by our prime minister Shri Narendra Modi, the rivers are flooded with plastic waste and polluting oceans in the end. Today, I don’t think that I need to explain why the plastic ban is necessary, everyone knows the negative side of single-use plastic and how disastrous and dangerous it is.
The recent nationwide ban from July 1, 2022 was very affirmative and strict at the time of implementation. But, the story got repeated, after 1-2 months all regular plastics are being manufactured again and sold all over India. The market is flooded with all banned SUP products again. In starting, the manufacturers were supplying the products at night to hide from the government’s checking and were doing all the transactions in cash to stay away from the records. But, now all the manufacturers are manufacturing and supplying all the banned products all over the market fearlessly and made settlements at each and every place to work this out.
I appeal to those manufacturers to take a walk around your home, work or any place you prefer. I promise that if you walk only one kilometre, look at the road sideways, unused lands/plots, around garbage bins, etc; you will regret what you are producing. Who are the victims? Do you think that the government? No, we are the victims, this will be harmful to us because we are going to live here with the littering that we have done, and our next generations are going to witness this. At the best, the government will clean up your society, but the collected garbage is going to stay here on Earth only and going to pollute the air and water, which is common for all. No one is manufacturing their own H2O and O2.
Now, I think that the government is going to just make the rules and regulations, but implementation is in the public’s hands. If you want to live a better life and give a better life to your children, you need to act. The government does not come to you every day to tell you that you need to eat healthy food, take a bath and do some work-out to live a healthy life. You do it because you want a good life and want to give a good life to your children. The same thing applies here. Do not deceive yourself into believing that you will be safe if you discard your trash outside your home, community, or city.
Moreover, without established technology or widespread acceptability, the government has hastily approved novel biodegradable materials for single-use plastic applications. Taking advantage of the ambiguous language, some companies began selling magic additives (for making any plastic biodegradable) in the Indian market without conducting complete testing and without having approval from certifying agency. These companies used illegal advertisements that featured the Indian government organization name in the product's promotional materials. This counterfeit technology is overtaking the market, posing greater harm to the environment.
I believe the government should take this seriously, create a separate department or organisation to study SUPs and their alternatives (Niti Aayog has already done this, but there is nothing for the industry to adapt), and work actively and effectively to replace all products with sustainable materials, prepare sustainable alternative technology for the market for quick adoption, and educate the market. In this manner, the sector can readily embrace environmentally friendly technologies and adhere to all legal requirements.