The ban on single-use plastics in India is failing; WHY??
It was a havoc when single-use plastic got banned in a phased manner. The general people have begun to find a way around the restriction and have managed to adjust to it in some way.
Even though it is against the law, producers, dealers, and retailers have managed to reintroduce it to the market.
In addition, the government was unable to adequately enforce the ban and stop the illegal activity at the same time.
When single-use plastic was banned, producers started looking for viable alternatives. There are various eco-friendly alternatives available, but the cost is higher comparatively. Hence, distributors and retailers have started targeting wood and paper products as alternatives due to their cost-effectiveness compared to other compostable products. Paper products have been used in almost every replacement of plastic products with plastic film coating inside. Moreover, fake biodegradable products, which are plastic or oxo-degradable in reality, are also being dumped into the market. Furthermore, plastic products are being manufactured and dumped in the market on a large scale illegally.
Today, the market has either paper & wood products or plastic products. There are a few real compostable and biodegradable products available. Is it a planned single-use plastic (SUP) ban by the government? At first, the SUP ban was supposed to start on October 2, 2019. Afterwards, the government realised that it could not be implemented easily without giving a notice period to the industry. Hence, the government made a committee to make an effective action plan. As a result, it was decided to give the industry two years to prepare for shifting to eco-friendly products and ban the SUP in a phased manner with category-wise products. What are the results of this long planning and stage-wise SUP ban?
The outcomes of the strict planning and execution of the SUP prohibition over the course of three years are frightening. Things have become worse.
Paper and wood are being used more frequently, which is directly related to the cutting down of trees. Additionally, oxo-degradable plastic produces microplastic, which increases the danger of plastic entering the human body through the food chain, water and air. The human body has already been shown to have microplastic residues. I don't think any evidence is needed because I believe everyone has seen these things in the marketplace. Banned plastic and non-sustainable products are also overflowing in government canteens and restaurants.
We are trying to reduce pollution by eliminating single-use plastic and we are shifting to wood or paper products by cutting down more trees, ultimately increasing pollution & promoting our problem to a higher level.
There won't be a single tree left on Earth if we turn all SUP items into paper or wood today.
Here, by exaggerating, we are not solving an issue—rather, we are causing new ones.
How can this be resolved?
We cannot rely on the market or the government to take action; self-awareness is the only viable answer.
Every time we breathe and take in air from our surroundings, do you like pure or dirty air? When the environment deteriorates, nobody survives, we are witnessing the current level of air pollution in Delhi. All we have to do is refuse products that aren't sustainable. The environmentally friendly option will inevitably enter the market. For example, when you accept a plastic carry bag, you must consider how it will return to you when you discard it, such as contaminated food, incineration fumes, microplastic, and so on. Would you like to digest it in your body?