Centre to go ahead with single-use plastic ban from July 1

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | | Updated on: Jun 28, 2022

Industry players and bodies had been asking for extension in deadline

The Centre has decided to go ahead with the scheduled ban on single-use plastic items from July 1, despite industry players and bodies, especially the packaged beverage sector, clamouring for an extension. Manufacturing, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of “identified” single-use plastics items having “low utility and high littering potential” will be part of this ban. This includes earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic straws, plastic plates, glasses and cutlery, plastic ice-cream or candy sticks, wrapping or packaging films of sweet boxes, invitation cards and cigarette packets, among others.

The Environment Ministry on Tuesday said national and state-level control rooms will be set up and special teams will be formed for effective enforcement of the ban. “States and Union Territories have been asked to set up border checkpoints to stop inter-state movement of any banned single-use plastic items,” it added.

Ensuring smooth transition

The beverage industry has begun importing paper straws to meet the new norms due to lack of domestically-produced options. Players such as Dabur India and Parle Agro said they are working on a smooth transition.

“Dabur has already commenced production of Real juice packs with integrated paper straws. We are committed to meeting the regulations and will ensure that all packs come with integrated paper straws,“ said Sharukh Khan, Executive Director - Operations, Dabur India Ltd.

Schauna Chauhan, CEO, Parle Agro, said, “Our shipments of imported paper straw are coming in a staggered manner due to huge demand. Nonetheless, we are working on a programme for a smooth transition from plastic straws to biodegradable straws, and have no plans of closing any factories in the process. As part of our transition, we will start with paper straws and then move to PLA-based straws. This will commence once all the machineries of our business partners for manufacturing PLA straws are installed and commissioned, which will take a few months.”

Gradual transition needed

In the run-up to the deadline, industry players and bodies have been stressing on the lack of availability of enough locally-made paper straws and challenges with importing them. Some players also stated that they may need to sell beverage cartons without straws to meet these norms. Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons had been pitching for a gradual transition over 18 months to avoid disruptions in sales.

Meanwhile, Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General, CAIT, said, “Thousands of manufacturing units and packaging units are engaged in earning livelihood and such a ban will prove to be counter productive for this sector, which will adversely affect the economy and employment. Preparedness is almost negligible. Without having viable and equitable alternatives, any ban will wreck trade and commerce. It will be appropriate that the order is deferred and there is focus on phase-wise implementation.”

Looking at alternatives

Instead of a blanket ban, Thermoformers and Allied Industries Association (TAIA), which represents MSMEs involved in making plastic products for serving and packaging of food and beverages, has urged the Environment Ministry to set specifications for rigid-plastic based food service material such as cups, glasses, plateware and cutlery.

Bhavesh Bhojani, Secretary of TAIA, said the ban exempts plastic carry bags, PET bottles and multi-layered plastics packaging if they meet certain specifications. “We are similarly urging the government to set some distinguishing standards or parameters so that rigid-plastic based food service products can be continued to be used. We also want more time for the industry to transition to bio-degradable or compostable plastics as it requires substantial investments and replacement of manufacturing lines,” he added. 

Published on June 28, 2022
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