Plastic has multiple uses in our daily life. Their physical and chemical properties lead to commercial success. But the aimless disposal of plastic has become a major threat to the environment. In particular, plastic bags are the biggest contributors to littered waste. Plastic pollution is most visible in developing Asian and African countries, where the garbage collection system is often inefficient or non-existent. Every year, a massive quantity of plastic bags ends up in the environment via water bodies, soil, etc. On average plastic takes thousands of years to decompose in landfills, plastic bags take almost 10-20 years to decompose, while plastic bottles take 450 years. Just think how long it takes to decompose plastic and within that period how much more plastic is going to be produced. Plastic is made from fossil fuels and they emit a huge amount of pollutions making it a non-biodegradable substance. Therefore, to address the issue of scientific Plastic Waste Management, the Government notified Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 to improve the rules that will suppress the rules of 2011. These rules aimed to increase the minimum thickness of carrying bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate a minimum thickness of 50 microns for plastic sheets also to facilitate collection for plastic waste. Expansion of rules to rural areas as the use of plastic has reached rural areas also. They also introduced they ‘collect back system’ as an eco-friendly substitute has not been found in place of plastic, and banning plastic is out of the context because it is nearly impossible. So the real challenge of plastic management still stands strong.
NEW FEATURES IN PLASTIC WASTE MANAGEMENT RULES, 2016
Rural areas have been bought in the width of these rules as plastic is dominating rural areas and the responsibility of implementation of the rural is given to Grampanchayat. Also, individuals and mass generators like industries, offices, etc, have to segregate waste, pay users fees as per bye-laws of the local bodies. The event holders have the main responsibility for the management of waste generated from big events like marriage function, religious gathering, public meetings, etc. Extended Producer Responsibility: Earlier, EPR was left to the discretion of the local bodies. The producers (i.e, persons engaged in the manufacture, or import of carrying bags, multi-layered packaging and sheets or like and the persons using these for packaging or wrapping their products) and brand owners have been made responsible for collecting waste generated from their products. They have to approach local bodies for the formulation of a plan/system for plastic waste management within the prescribed timeframe. State Pollution Control Board (SPCBs) will not grant/renew the registration of plastic bags, or multi-layered packaging unless the producer proposes the action plan endorsed by the concerned State Development Department. Producers have to keep a record of their vendors to whom they have supplied raw materials for manufacturing carry bags, plastic sheets, and multi-layered packaging. This is to curb the manufacturing of these products in the unorganized sector. The entry points of plastic bags/plastic sheets/multi-layered packaging into the commodity supply chain are primarily the retailers and street vendors. They have been assigned the responsibility of not providing the commodities in plastic bags/plastic sheets/multi-layered packaging which do not conform to these rules. Otherwise, they will have to pay the fine. The plastic carry bags will be available only with shopkeepers/street vendors pre-registered with local bodies on payment of registration fees. The amount collected as registration fees by local bodies has to be used for waste management. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been mandated to formulate the guidelines for thermoset plastic (plastic difficult to recycle). In the earlier Rules, there was no specific provision for such type of plastic. Manufacturing and use of non-recyclable multi-layered plastic to be phased in two years.