India eyes complete national ban on single-use plastics by H2 ‘22

Author: Priya Jestin

2021/03/15

MUMBAI (ICIS)--India is working on a national policy aimed at completely phasing out single-use plastics by the second half of 2022, taking into account varied paces of compliance across states over the past five years.

In a draft notification issued on 13 March 2021, the country’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is looking at a three-phased ban on the manufacture, use, sale, import and handing of single-use plastic items.

The policy is up for public consultation of 60 days from the release of the ministry notification.

“The manufacturers and brand owners of the plastic products are being given adequate time to find alternatives like compostable plastic or other environment friendly products,” a ministry official said.

The proposed policy, however,  is widely expected to be met with strong opposition from plastics manufacturers across the country.

In the draft regulation, the first phase of the ban will take effect on 30 September 2021 and will require carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic should have a thickness of more than 120 microns, but this will not apply to bags made up of compostable plastic.

Increasing the thickness of plastic bags is expected to substantially improve collection and recycling of used carry-bags, the government source said.

Larger cities like Mumbai saw an increase in the thickness of plastic carry bags and better access to recycled plastic.

Compostable or biodegradable plastic, however, is not as cheap as regular plastic which hinders implementation of these bans across India over the years.

The second stage of implementation is expected on 1 January 2022, in which six categories of single-use plastic - including earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks and polystyrene (PS) for decoration - will be banned.

By the third stage from 1 July 2022, the ban on single-use plastics should be complete. It will cover plastic plates, glasses, cutlery (plastic forks, spoons, knives, trays), plastic stirrers, packaging films on sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic/polyvinyl chloride (PVC) banners with thickness of less than 100 microns.

From 2018 onward, around 19 states have imposed bans on single-use plastic which are being implemented with varying degrees of success.

Maharashtra was one of the first states to impose the ban in March 2018.

Previous attempts to impose a national ban on single-use plastics in October 2019 were unsuccessful following strong opposition from the plastics industry.

This time, the South Asian emerging economic giant was hoping to complete the task before it celebrates its 75th founding anniversary on 15 August 2022.

Focus article by Priya Jestin