India bans single use plastic items amid criticism
New Delhi, Jul 1 (EFE).- India on Friday implemented a ban the sale and distribution of single-use plastic as a measure to protect the environment, even though the much-hailed move may not reduce the carbon footprint of one of the world’s biggest polluters.
The law, which was first announced in August 2021, stipulates the ban on single-use plastics in 19 articles, including cutlery, straws, glasses and PVC fabric thinner than 10 microns.
The decision is being considered a major step towards reducing pollution emissions in a country that produces around 3.5 million tons of plastic every year, and where “per capita plastic waste generation has almost doubled over the last five years,” the Indian environment ministry said in a statement
However, Dhrstadyumn Khera, the spokesperson of Indian environmental nonprofit There Is No Earth B, told EFE that the decision was not enough to significantly reduce plastic consumption in the country.
Some of the reasons Khera cited include the fact that multi-layered plastics continue to be produced unchecked, which “leads to a lot of air pollution” due to the energy used by factories to produce them.
He insisted that the ban covers only “a small fraction” of the plastic waste produced in the country, with objects such as tetra-packs for liquids and multi-layered chips packets left out of the ban despite widespread use.
Moreover, the ban on single-use plastics will negatively affect small businesses, as they cannot access sustainable alternatives due to their high cost.
Although India is capable of producing alternatives to plastic such as bamboo-based cutlery and paper spoons, “these cannot be afforded by these small businesses, which is why it is going to affect them definitely,” Khera said.
In the end “all of the responsibility is on these small hawkers or street vendors or citizens,” while the measure is “not cutting the profits of petroleum companies that are producing these vast quantities,” the environmentalist stressed.
Meanwhile Ravi Agarwal, the CEO of the All India Plastic Industries Association, told EFE that thousands of low-income workers will be adversely affected by the measure.
He argued that banning single-use plastic worked in European countries because they had a small, educated and environmentally conscious population, unlike India, a country of 1.3 billion where plastic accounts for 6-8 percent of the solid waste treated in municipal bodies.
Agarwal said that measures such as controlling the amount of trash generated by citizens and using social media to spread awareness could be more effective in reducing India’s carbon footprint.
Every year, the world uses around 5 billion plastic bags while at least 8 million tons of plastic reaches oceans, equivalent to a truck full of trash being emptied out every minute. EFE