Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: Plastic waste management

Plastic waste management

The Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 notified by the

Ministry of Environment and Forests, should be viewed by State governments and municipal authorities as a good blueprint for a much-needed civic clean-up:

The Central Pollution Control Board estimates the consumption of plastic products in India to be of the order of eight million tonnes a year. This ranges from shopping bags to household and industrial material. The volume of plastic waste is approximately 15, 300 tonnes a day.

It is welcome, therefore, that the new rules take into account the significant growth in waste generation, predominantly in the form of carry bags and multilayered packaging, and call for a paradigm shift in the way it is collected, sorted, and disposed of:

What is perhaps most significant is the formal recognition given to waste pickers in the management chain. These labourers, now largely in the informal sector, must be constructively engaged by municipal authorities. Other laudable aspects of the rules include the stipulation of benchmarked Indian Standards for recycling facilities, mandatory pricing of consumer carry bags given by retailers, a labelling scheme, and introduction of extended producer responsibility for manufacturers to fund the creation of collection centres. The importance given to compostable plastics defined as material that can be degraded through biological processes yielding carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass residue can potentially reduce the use of traditional plastics.

Municipal authorities and State pollution control boards must use the momentum provided by the new rules to move away from business as usual on waste management.

It is apparent that urban India has been a laggard in implementing the Municipal

Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, defeating the objective of the Environment (Protection) Act under which they were made.

The new rules on plastics can help solve a major part of the national garbage crisis.

Municipal corporations and other local bodies are obligated to ensure that the waste is properly segregated and recycled. They have little to fear by way of financial burden, as the cost of plastics use is to be borne by the producers and consumers. Implementing the provisions will have a salutary effect on the ecology of cities and towns where uncollected plastic waste clogs stormwater drains, rivers, and lakes. Moreover, the revised technical specifications for carry bags should make them attractive to recyclers as they will be thicker at 40 microns, up from 20 microns.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India