In his Independence Day speech, PM Narendra Modi called for significant steps to make the country free from single-use plastic.
According to a report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as of July last year, 127 of the 192 countries reviewed have adopted some form of legislation to regulate plastic bags. These regulations include restrictions on manufacture, distribution, use, and trade of plastic bags, taxation and levies, and post-use disposal.
The UNEP has said the regulations vary considerably in their comprehensiveness, but the most common form is the restriction on free retail distribution.
A 2015 study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 60 major Indian cities estimated that these cities were generating around 4,059 tonnes of plastic waste daily. Extrapolating the data for the entire country, an answer to a question in Parliament estimated that the figure would be 25,940 tons a day. Delhi topped the list with 690 tonnes of daily plastic waste, followed by Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.
The study stated that there were 20 cities where plastic waste was more than 7.5% of the total municipal solid waste and hence there was an urgent need to establish waste recycling and treatment centres. In a 2018 study, CPCB estimated that about 80% of the plastics consumed are used in the packaging sector. It noted that per capita consumption of plastic in India was 9.7kg annually, which was lower than the global average.
The UNEP report states that there are 27 countries that have legally imposed some type of ban on single-use plastics or on specific products like plates, cups, straws and so on. There are 29 countries that have enacted taxes on single-use plastics. Apart from this, 63 countries have enacted what are called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) measures such as product-take back schemes on single-use plastics. In India too, the government has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. These rules, applicable to all states, prohibit carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 50 microns in thickness.
There is complete ban on sachets using plastic material for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala. As per Rule 17(3) of the Rules, each State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee (SPCBs/PCCs) is required to submit annual reports to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the implementation of the rules by the July 31 each year.
Based on this, the CPCB is supposed to prepare a consolidated report on use and management of plastic waste and forward it to the central government along with its recommendations.