Plastic, as we know it, has been in usage since ages and we can’t deny that it has benefits. While the benefits are surely there, they come together with hazardous disadvantages as well. And In 2018, The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change replaced and amended the Plastic Waste Management Act of 2016. These amendments were based on the suggestions to the ministry and aimed to cease the production and usage of Multi-layered Plastics (MLP) by 2022 (It should be noted here that MLP which are considered non-recyclable or not of any use are to be phased out only). The Multi-layered plastic should have been already banned by 2018 but failed miserably because of poor implementation.
How bad is Multi-layered Plastic?
What exactly is Multi-layered plastic?
Multi-layered plastics, as the name suggests are layered with various other plastics also with non-plastics such as Aluminium. This gives the plastic resistance against moisture as well as heat and in result, the plastic is also very easy to store and move around and has a higher shelf-line capacity. This makes it the go-to solution and packaging in various food items such as biscuits, chips, candies and even medicines too. While there are not abundant methods to recycle Multi-layered Plastics in our economy, it is best to treat it which us a long process, the plastic should be cleaned before treating and is difficult to spot for the collectors. The plastic when untreated, clog up the drains or collect and flow in the seas or oceans. It has been known that plastic debris affects around 267 species of marine animals and research proves that by 2050, plastics in oceans will weigh twice as much as fishes. The multi-layered plastics are also harmful to animals such as Cows and Buffaloes who are unable to digest this product and blocks their stomach, can even lead to death! The toxic plastic can lead to cancer, immunity suppression, can also lead to thyroid problems and child development problems.
Yes, Multi-layered plastics might be a cheap way, but it is dangerous and should in every way stopped to move further in the markets.
What measures is the Government taking, then?
The Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate change implemented the Plastic Management Act in 2018, March.
- With Extended Producer Responsibility, the Producers are supposed to take care of the Multi-layered plastics they produced, both financially as well as physically. In EPR, the producers are supposed to use the already utilized product to make a new one, thus reducing the plastic in the environment. The plan on how they would be implementing and the time interval should be discussed with the State Pollution Control Board.
- The rules also organised a registration system for all the plastic producers or manufacturers which is evolved by the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board)
- A National registry for a producer with a presence in more than 2 states is designated and a State registry for presence in less than 2 states.
- The Rules amended the phasing of Multi-layered Plastics to, “non-recyclable, or non-energy recoverable, or with no alternate use.”
- The rule of the plastic bags to be purchased by the customers in The plastic Waste Management Act of 2016 has been omitted.
Even with these rules and Acts, India stands still burdening up with MLP. Is the government failing to be strict or is there not much of awareness, yet? Well, both might the reason.
Consumers are not yet familiar with the Plastic Waste Management Act and neither are they conscious of its harmful effects by the packets which they consume or eat almost daily.
The government might have implemented the act, but it should not be a mere piece of print on a paper or a mere act, it should have its strictness, should be well-specified. The amount of Multi-layered Plastics treated should be known and communicated.
Resources and Taxes should be used to spread awareness and for the proper treatment of these plastics.
While the Producers might be regarded as responsible here, we all should step up and be the change. Because these plastics affect both us and our environment.