October 14th, 2019, saw the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council convene in Goa, with the industry watching on with bated breath. The Indian economy hit a six-year low of 5 percent in the first quarter of the 2019 financial year. The Union Ministry hastened to launch a financial stimuli package in June 2019, while reducing the GST on consumer goods to boost domestic consumption.
Around the same time, the government was planning to ban certain single-use plastics to reduce plastic waste generation. The Prime Minister, in his Independence Day speech in August 2019, urged citizens to shun single-use plastic. A supposed watershed moment for sustainability and environmental consciousness for India, given that 60 major cities in the country generate around 25,950 tonnes of plastic waste in a day[i].
The proposed plastic ban was shelved amidst pressure from the industry and a fear of the economic slowdown. However, these GST tax rebates will create liquidity in the domestic economy and increase demand for consumer goods- meaning an increase in the quantum of waste generated. Thus, while waste management is becoming one of the biggest challenges for the government, economic policies continue to drive waste generation.
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 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, 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.
We are proud to announce that Saahas has won FICCI’s Indian Circular Economy Award 2019 under the category Not for Profit. The Indian Circular Economy Award is India’s exclusive awards program on Circular Economy with the objective to identify and reward organizations and individuals in India that have made notable contributions and brought in a change.
Congratulations to Saahas for being the national torch-bearers!
Sahaas bagged the first prize in the 3R Excellence Awards for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the National Level Category, at the 8th Regional 3R Forum in Asia and Pacific. This award has been given for exemplary work in the area of Waste Management through 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). The award was presented at the 8th Regional 3R Forum in Asia and Pacific held from 9 to 12 April 2018, in the cleanest city of India, Indore. The 3R Awards organised jointly by MoHUA, Ministry of Environment, Japan, and the Nations Centre for Regional Development commemorates exceptional work in waste management across the country. We are glad to announce that Saahas has emerged as the winner for its inspiring work in Bangalore, Hubballi, Ballari, Chennai, and Gurugram.