As per reports in renowned media houses, India is set to ban as many as six items in an attempt to scrap single-use plastic from cities and villages from October 2. In his Independence Day speech, the Prime-Minister Shri Narendra Modi, urged all citizens and government agencies to take the ‘first big step’ towards scraping single-use plastic by October 2. Around 50% of single-use plastic products end up in the ocean harming the marine life and entering the human food chain.
The government plans to ban these six items to reduce the 14 million tons of annual consumption in India by 5-10%. Penalties for the violation of the ban will take effect after 6 months to provide people with ample time to adopt other alternatives. The government also plans to push for use of only recyclable plastic and will also ask E-commerce companies to cut back on the use of plastic. The plastic used by E-commerce companies for packaging amounts to 40% of India’s annual consumption.
Some states have already banned plastic products. The Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, was issued by the Maharastra Pollution Control Board in March to ban manufacture, distribution, transport and usage of certain plastic products . The Hon’ble Bombay High Court provided a three-month extension after the notification was challenged and said that it will be difficult to implement the policy with immediate effect.
The Nation Green Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as ‘NGT’) and other state High Courts around the country have also passed a number of orders to impose fines on violation of bans, to prevent the disposal of plastic in water bodies and to reaffirm bans in different states.
In Sandeep Lahariya v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the NGT (Central Zone), ordered the Pollution Control Board of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to take steps regarding plastic waste management. After the order, several steps were taken in these states and raids were conduct to stop manufacturing and distribution. Recently, the judgment of Chandigarh Consumer Forum dated April 9, 2019 imposed a penalty on the shoe store BATA, for charging its consumers INR 3 for a shopping bag to carry their purchases home.
Plastic poses a major threat to us even in our day to day lives. Apart from the humongous effect it has on the animals, namely, being ingested by animals under the impression that it is food has led to death of many animals. It also however has detrimental effects on the heath of humans as Plastics are made up of a variety of toxic chemicals. As such, its uses and exposure are associated with a number of human health concerns. Chemicals leached from the plastics contain compounds like polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), bisphenol A (BPA), and phthalates. These chemicals have been established to upset the endocrine system and thyroid hormones and can be very destructive to women of reproductive age and young children. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to regulate plastic consumption in India and to protect water bodies from pollution cause by plastic products.