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Single-use plastic to be phased out by June 30: Pollution Control Board

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is gearing up for the phase-out of several single-use plastic items by June 30, it said in a statement on Friday.

The Plastic Waste Management (PWM) (Amended) Rules, 2021, notified in August 2021, prohibits the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of several single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential from July 1, 2022.

These items include earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [thermocol] for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic, or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers etc.

The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of carrying bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than seventy-five microns have been banned, with effect from September 30, 2021, as opposed to 50 microns recommended earlier under PWM Rules, 2016.

According to a statement by the CPCB on Friday, directions have been issued at the national, state and local levels to ensure there is a complete phase-out of the listed single-use items by June 30.

“We have already directed state pollution control boards to revoke consent to operate to industries that fail to comply. Licences can be diversified for other industries if they want to move over to producing other items that are allowed. Many people are engaged in this sector informally, so we must see how quickly everyone can move over,” said Prashant Gargava, member secretary, CPCB.

According to the CPCB statement, all leading petrochemical industries have been directed to not supply plastic raw materials to the industries engaged in the single-use plastic items production.

Additionally, directions have been issued to state pollution control boards and pollution control committees to modify or revoke consent to operate issued under Air/Water Act to industries engaged in the production of these items.

CPCB has also asked the Customs Authority to stop the import of banned single-use plastic (SUP) items. Local authorities have been also directed to issue fresh commercial licenses with the condition that SUP items shall not be sold on their premises and the existing commercial licenses shall be cancelled, if entities are found to be selling banned SUP items.

On the demand side, directions have been issued to E-commerce companies, leading single-use plastic sellers/users, and plastic raw material manufacturers to phase out these items.

SPCBs and local bodies are organising large-scale awareness drives with the participation of all citizens – students, voluntary organisations, self-help groups, RWAs, market associations etc.

“This is a positive move, enabling alternative micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME) industry to transition to alternatives so that they are readily available. The ban will only be successful when alternatives are readily available, and people are aware of it. Simultaneously, a larger focus has to be on social engineering, which would entail local groups, RWAs, NGOs, co-operatives etc as well as focus on mechanisms for appropriate disposal of these alternatives, we want to stop SUPs but do not want to create another stream of waste. For instance, compostable plastics which ideally should be sorted separately and should have separate collection systems so that they do not interfere with recyclable plastics,” said Swati Singh Sambyal, independent Delhi-based management expert.

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