Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules 2021: Keeping in view the adverse impact of littered plastic on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India (GoI), on 13 August 2021, notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, prohibiting identified single-use plastic items by 2022.
- The development is in line with the call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to phase out single-use plastic by 2022.
- The amendments prohibit specific single-use plastic items which have “low utility and high littering potential” by 2022.
- The recent release from the MoEFCC stated that the thickness of plastic carry bags is to increase from 50 to 75 microns from 30 September 2021 and to 120 microns with effect from 31 December 2022.
- The Gazette notification for the same that was issued on 11th August 2021 also has ‘Guidelines for Extended Producer Responsibility given legal force.’
Note: Extended Producer Responsibility is a policy approach in which producers take responsibility for the management of the disposal of products they produce once those products are designated as no longer useful by consumers.
- Plastic packaging waste not covered under the phase-out of identified single-use plastic items should be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility of the producer, importer, and brand owner (PIBO) as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- From July 2022, the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of identified single-use plastic items will be banned from July 1, 2022.
- These include earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, plastic flags, polystyrene (Thermocol) for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, and stirrers.
- From September 30, 2021, onwards, the thickness of plastic carry bags will be increased from 50 microns to 75 microns, and thereafter from December 31, 2022, it will be increased to 120 microns.
- The provisions will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.
- A draft outlining the way forward was issued in March and involved amending the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- Currently, the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, prohibits the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of carrying bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country.
- There is a ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing, or selling tobacco, gutkha, and pan masala.
- India had adopted a resolution to address single-use plastic products pollution at the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019.
- Under the Swacch Bharat Mission, the GoI is taking measures to strengthen the waste management infrastructure in the States and UTs.
- A National Level Taskforce had also been constituted by the Ministry for taking coordinated efforts to eliminate identified single-use plastic items and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.