CPCB and Plastic Waste Management

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 52 companies for not specifying a timeline or a plan to collect the plastic waste that results from their business activities.

Plastic Waste Management Rules

  • As per the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, (which was amended in 2018) companies using plastic in their processes (packaging and production) have a responsibility to ensure that any resulting plastic waste is safely disposed of.
  • The rules prescribe a system of Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) under which companies are required to specify collection targets as well as a time-line for this process within a year of the rules coming into effect on March 2016.
  • Out A52 companies including Amazon, Flipkart, Danone Foods and Beverages and Patanjali Ayurved Limited are yet to disclose their disposal plans.

Plastic Waste Management: Current Scenario

  • As per the estimates of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) made in 2015, Indian cities generate about 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste per day of which 70 per cent of the plastic ends up as waste.
  • About 40 per cent of India’s plastic waste which is neither collected nor recycled ends up polluting the land and water.
  • Plastic packaging has been singled out as one of the key contributors to plastic waste though.
  • In India e-commerce is expected to grow from about $38.5 billion-equivalent in 2017 to $200 billion by 2026. Given the role played by packaging, the waste management problem is likely to become alarming.
  • Economic Survey 2019 estimates  India’s demand for total material will double by 2030 at current rates of growth.

Way Forward

  • Plastics are less expensive when compared to other materials to manufacture. Recycling plastics into new products extends their life and provides a substitute for virgin material. Further keeping them out of the environment reduces clean-up and pollution costs.
  •  Online retailers must be compelled to take back the thousands of polybags, plastic envelopes and air pillows used to cushion articles inside cardboard boxes. Similar to other developed markets where they are trying out labels on packages with clear recycling instructions.
  • e-commerce companies can explore setting up of waste cooperatives by employing informal waste-pickers and consumers must be incentivised to return segregated plastic waste.
  • Municipal and pollution control authorities must also be accountable for the lapses.

Two prongs of the solution which involves reducing the use of plastics in by using alternatives, and upscaling waste segregation, collection and transmission is the way out for efficient and sustainable waste management.

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