by Swanica Shah
On October 2nd, 2019, India will be moving one step closer to saving our planet and reduce global warming, with a ban on single-use plastics. The government plans on banning 6 single-use plastics; plastic cups, bags, plates, bottles, straws and selected types of sachets.
Narendra Modi, PM of India, states that by October 2nd, 2022, India will be completely free of single-use plastics. This ban will reduce India’s plastic consumption which is at 14 million tonnes, a year, by 5%- 10%. This is a part of the ‘Swatch Bharat Mission’ implemented by Narendra Modi. October 2nd is a celebrated date for India as it commemorates Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
40% of India’s plastic consumption is by e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart. The government has asked them to cut down their usage in packaging. These companies are the fastest growing industries in India as online shopping is becoming more accessible, therefore increasing plastic usage at a steady rate. So, it is strategic that they cut down as soon as possible before it worsens.
The ban targets the manufacturing, usage and import of all products. Manufacturing drink companies like Pepsi and Coco-Cola will have to develop alternative packaging. Union Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan held a meeting in New Delhi to discuss these possible alternatives, despite persuasion attempts by these companies to not include the PET bottles in the ban.
The life cycle of most single-use plastics start at production, next is a fabrication (product manufacturing), after usage, almost all end up in the landfill or the ocean (50%), where it can take up to 450 years to forever to biodegrade. We are drowning in plastic!
The plastic in the oceans can break down and release toxins that harm marine life. It also enters our food cycle through plankton, which is the heart of the marine food chain. Plastic also clogs the waterways.
It is important we take action soon as the plastic is everywhere and we aren’t being able to keep up with the pace of production! “There’s so much plastic in the environment at this point, it’s in the water we drink, much of the food we eat and even the air we breathe,” John Hocevar, who is a marine biologist and oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA, informed ABC News.
The ban will start on October 2nd, but citizens will be given a 6th month period before penalties will apply for violations of the campaign. The government plans on spreading awareness as the first step in the campaign. Next, they will collect all single-use plastic items and recycle them. “Nearly 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste will remain uncollected,” according to the Minister of Environment and Forests, Prakash Javadekar.
The campaign is already ahead of the track which has been supported by the United Nations Environment, according to the Environment Minister, Harsh Vardhan. States such as Sikkim, Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland and Jharkhand have already preceded with the ban. Air India, an Indian airline, has also shown its support and agreed to ban plastics on all flights by the required date, October 2nd.
Although, apprehensions have been raised that the ban will put an economic strain on companies as choosing a recyclable alternative like glass, for example, will have many added costs like refilling, washing, transporting and chemicals used for washing.
The plastic industry engages lakhs which can be a loss for the country but other industries that will produce the alternatives can make up for it. Likely troubles by everyday consumers are also expected, but isn’t it worth it to save our earth? Is it a good initiative by Narendra Modi or could it prove ineffective?