Plastic, responsible for numerous enjoyable facets of modern life, has been a commercial success due to its physical and chemical properties. However, careless means of disposal have proven to be a major threat to the environment. In order to curb the indiscriminate use of plastic and address the issue of plastic waste management, the Government of India released the Plastic Waste Management Rules in 2016. These rules were to be followed by every local body, gram panchayat, waste generator, producer, importer, brand owner, retailer, and street vendor in the country; each provided with a set of responsibilities.
One of the big major changes that has been implemented is increasing the thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 – as stated in the Plastic Waste Rules, 2011 – to 50 microns along with stipulation 50 micron thickness for plastic sheets. This will help increase the cost and in turn, reduce the tendency to provide free carry bags. It is essential for shopkeepers and street vendors to register with the local body if they wish to provide plastic carry bags for dispensing any commodity. A waste management fee may be prescribed depending upon the sale capacity. Each plastic carry bag and multi-layered packaging shall contain specific information like a name and a registration number.
To ensure proper implementation, the State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee is required to prepare an annual report for the Central Pollution Control Board by 31st July. A consolidated annual report on the use and management of plastic waste shall then be prepared and submitted by the CPCB to the Central Government, along with its recommendations before the 31st of August.
In 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released an amendment under the name ‘Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018’.