Narendra Modi, Indian PM, had a bold plan to fight off single-use plastic. In August during Independence Day, he had said he would prohibit single-use plastic throughout the country.
He addressed the crowd of thousands who were gathered for his Independence Day speech to take the big step together on October 2 and help make India free of plastic.
Was the Plan Successful?
The banned single-use plastic was supposed to include plastic bags, cups, small bottles, plates, sachets, and straws. However, according to newest report, instead of a straightforward ban, it will be a campaign for awareness.
According to Ram Kumar, a sanitation superintendent from the Delhi Municipal Corporation, despite the announcement of the PM for end of single-use plastic in India, there’s been no prohibition set and no penalties suggested by the government.
He also added that in Delhi, they will be placing collection bins at their waste collection centers in order for people to be able to throw away the single-use plastic they have.
In a tweet by Clean India Mission, it was explained that the stance of the government it’s not banning plastic entirely, but increasing the awareness and motivating people to reduce its use.
India’s Huge Problem with Plastic Pollution Management
According to Plastindia Foundation, India used around 15.5 million tons of plastic in the period of 2016/17 and this number is expected to rise to 20 million by 2019/20.
However, the plastic industry in India employs approximately 4 million individuals throughout 30,000 processing units and 90 percent of them are small to medium businesses. Plastic also employs ragpickers and street food and market sellers are also reliant on it.
But, on a daily basis, India generates plastic garbage which weighs as much as 150 big blue whales, the biggest animal known to man. Some claim that the issue isn’t the amount of plastic, but rather its disposal.
In fact, the average Indian uses around 10 times less plastic than the average American. And, their per capita of plastic is less than 50 percent of the global average.
It’s their management of waste that is lacking.
Around 10,000 tons of it stays uncollected and a lot of it gets dumped into rivers and then hits the oceans and pollutes their waters and marine life.
They also burn the rest of it in landfills.
Is there a Viable Plastic Alternative?
Unfortunately, as humans, we need plastic for almost everything and its replacement isn’t simple. There’s also the issue with plastic alternatives- according to a study by Trucost, it would quadruple the environmental expenses through the increase of the carbon footprint.
However, this study doesn’t take into account the fact that one alternative, the cotton bag, biodegrades within 5 months whereas a plastic one needs centuries.
So, this became important to India- if their waste management and recycling are lacking and they prohibit plastic entirely, it will end up replacing it with more environmentally-costly options.
Are Bans on Plastic Irrelevant?
According to the UN Environment Program, the answer is no; however, banning plastic will work only if there’s effort by both the public and the policy makers.