Ministry Proposes Three-Stage Plan to Ban Use of Single-Use Plastics by 2022

India is working on a national policy which aims to completely phase out single-use plastics by the second half of 2022, keeping in consideration the varied paces of compliance across states over the past five years. In a draft notification issued on 13th March 2021, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change has proposed a three-phased ban on the manufacture, use, sale, import, and handling of single-use plastic items.

The first set of rules for plastic bags has been proposed to come into force from 30th September onwards. The draft rules propose that each sheet of non-woven plastic carry bag shall not be less than 60 (GSM per square metre) or 240 microns in thickness, and that a carry bag made of virgin or recycled plastic shall not be less than 120 microns in thickness.

The second set of the proposed rules is expected to come into force on 1 January 2022, banning the sale, use, manufacturing, stocking, import, and distribution of six categories of items which use single-use plastic. These include earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, and polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration.

Thereafter, the third and final stage would be initiated on 1 July 2022, banning single-use plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery including forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays; wrapping films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, and plastic/PVC banners less than 100 micron and stirrers, etc.

“We have proposed a ban on quite a few single-use plastic items in the draft with different time frames for each. We are inviting suggestions and after 60 days, as per the norm, we will assess the feedback and notify the final rules accordingly”, said RP Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.

Considering the ‘high environmental costs’ associated with management of single-use plastics and the adverse effects on the marine environment in particular, the ministry has proposed to implement the ban on the above-mentioned single-use plastic items on a pan-India basis. However, these provisions will not apply to commodities made out of compostable plastic materials, according to the rules.

Previous attempts to impose a national ban on single-use plastics back in October 2019 were unsuccessful following strong opposition from the plastics industry. This time however, India hopes to complete the task before the country’s 75th founding anniversary celebrated on 15th August 2022.

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