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Tuesday, 26 November 2019 15:06

Single Use Plastic

The 2nd of October was eagerly awaited this year, especially for all of us working in the waste management sector. To mark the 150th year of Gandhi Jayanti, the central government was expected to make a key announcement regarding banning certain Single-Use Plastic items. The government adopted the UNEP[1] definition of single-use plastics as, “…disposable plastics, commonly used for plastic packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These include, among other items, grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups, and cutlery.”

Disappointingly, the much-anticipated ban did not come through. However, with the government declaring the year 2022 as a deadline to phase out single-use plastic, the writing is on the wall. A positive development is the growing, public and policy, focus on the term 'Single Use' in India. The public discourse on waste management in the country has shifted from waste recycling to waste reduction and reuse. A large majority is misguided in believing that shifting to recyclable products is enough to solve the problem of waste, while as per the established waste management hierarchy[2], recycling is placed below reduce and reuse from the overall sustainability perspective. This is because recycling is also a polluting activity, and there are technical and financial limitations on what and how much can be recycled.

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