Clean Tech

How to plan the ban on single-use plastic

Preeti Mehra | | | Updated on: Dec 12, 2021
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An environment group chalks out a humane and pragmatic way forward

The year 2022 is the deadline set by the government to phase out single-use plastic. Not much has been said on how this will be achieved, though in August the government notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.

It is widely agreed that the implementation will directly impact 1.5 million waste workers, who are the mainstay of the recycling system. To chalk out a way forward that protects the interests of ragpickers, Delhi’s Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group partnered with organisations in Delhi, Pune, Indore and Nainital for an extended research and assessment.

Their report, titled ‘Plan the Ban’, endeavours to understand which plastics are currently recycled and which are not, through surveys, plastics audits, group discussions and available literature.

Bharati Chaturvedi, Founder and Director of Chintan, notes that the best plan would be to ban some single-use plastics and place some plastics under the ‘extended producer responsibility’ (EPR) regime. Simultaneously, livelihood opportunities for waste pickers must be enhanced both in the circular economy and within de-centralised solid waste management. “This win-win model is our best bet,” she says.

The key findings in the report are:

* Waste pickers are majorly dependent on plastic waste, which accounts for 40-60 per cent of their income.

* Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste contributes to 29.19 per cent of their income; polyethylene (PE) 20.39 per cent; mixed hard plastics and transparent polypropylene (PP) 10.45 per cent; and Bata plastic or BTP contributes 8.44 per cent.

* Waste workers are willing to take up less hazardous work if their income is protected.

The study found that the polluting plastics that are not recycled include multi-layered packaging and single-use plastics such as chips packets, shampoo sachets, non-woven bags, disposable cutlery, and banners, among others.

It suggests reducing both single-use plastics and toxic plastics while protecting the livelihood needs of low-income waste workers, linking them to an urban employment guarantee scheme.

Published on December 13, 2021

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