Plastic Disposal And Recycling In India: Here’s What You Should Know!
Plastic waste management has been a pressing global issue since decades now. According to figures released in the latest annual report by the Central Pollution Control Board, India, which is the world’s second-most populous country, generates approximately 5.6 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. While India’s plastic waste management issue is not as huge as the first world countries, it is still growing at a rapid speed.
The above-mentioned report on plastic waste by the CPCB stands as a testament to that: more affluent states like Goa produce over 60 grams per capita per day whereas the capital city of the country, Delhi is steadily catching up with 37 grams per capita per day. The national average consumption lies around 8 grams per capita per day.
On the brighter side, India recycles as much as 60% of its total plastic waste, which is as much as 38% more than the global average. 70% of this gets recycled at registered facilities, 20% in the unorganized sector, and 10% at households, as estimated by various sources. However, as societies become more affluent, they are bound to become more wasteful. Considering the huge litter of plastic we can already see on a daily basis in the cities, it is clear we cannot get confidently optimistic about these facts. In other words, this will continue working just as effectively unless we think differently and act decisively.
Per Capita Consumption
India’s per capita consumption is approximately 11 kilograms, which may seem insignificant when compared to the United States, where it is the global highest at 109 kilograms, as per a 2017 research by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The data further revealed the world average at about 28 kilograms. However, at the same time, the consumption was projected to increase to 20 kilogrammes by 2022, which is undoubtedly a substantial count.
Nation-wide Usage of Single-use Plastics
The central government is pursuing an ambitious project of phasing out single-use plastics such as bags, cutlery, and straws etc. by 2022. It has been observed that almost half of plastics consumed in India are used for packaging, with a substantial part of it being single-use, according to the industry. While several states in India have already taken the initiative to ban plastic carry bags, its enforcement has been lax as these are still widely used. Even though e-commerce giants such as Amazon India and Flipkart have extended their support to the government’s initiative by vowing to ditch single-use plastic for packaging in coming years, the campaign is far from tapping its full potential.
Visible Impact across India
Even though India is far ahead of the global average in terms of plastic waste management, the severe impact of plastic waste is visible in two of its major river systems. Waste does not typically get segregated in the country when collected, with vast amounts of it clogging public spaces as well as water bodies. According to the United Nations, Indus river at 164,332 tons and Meghna-Brahmaputra-Ganges at 72,845 tons carry some of the world’s highest amounts of plastic waste and debris to the oceans. These appalling figures indicate how there still is a long way to go.
Usage During the Pandemic
Covid-19 has undoubtedly been all-subsuming, making it difficult to think about or act upon all the other pressing issues concerning the world that are here to stay for long. One such issue is that of plastic waste management. The pandemic has further normalised plastic consumption via its usage in protection gear against the virus, be it gloves, masks or bodysuits. While this plastic protection gear is critical in the war against the novel coronavirus disease, it will ultimately contribute to the heaps of trash in our cities. And therefore, the need to incinerate the same in controlled and managed medical waste disposal facilities is severe.
Plastic Recycling Scenario in the Country
India makes use of the policy of the 4Rs: reducing the waste produced, reusing the material, recycling it to make new products, and recovering energy from the plastic waste. Through an efficient mix of technology, knowledge, and an ardent desire to bring about a change, the country has been finding sustainable solutions for this pressing challenge of plastic waste management. The segregation and recycling system here operates majorly through an informal chain of workers such as ragpickers who sort, and dealers who sell the recyclable plastic to plants.
Amidst such a scenario, there are steps that can be taken and lifestyle changes that can be made on an individual basis to ensure better plastic waste management. For more information and tips on how you can contribute to efficient waste management on a daily basis, check this link out.