In today’s world, where we mass-produce almost everything without considering its impact on our environment, to me, if there is one thing that embodies the essence of the 21st century, it’s single-use plastic. Among the nine billion tonnes of plastic waste that the global community has generated, a whopping 9% is only Single-Use Plastic products, including plastic cups, straws, bottles, etc. With such a devastatingly high contribution of Single-Use Plastics in our climate change crisis, it’s high time for us to recognise the need for arrangements that not only make the masses eco-conscious but also inspire widespread actions. With 2022 approaching, the 2018 Government commitment to phase out single-use plastic is upon us. Even with a hanging sword on our neck, our country does not have a baseline nation-wide report of the social, economic and environmental impact of single-use plastic. The foremost step in addressing this issue would be to have government-mandated nation-wide research that inventories plastic usage and analyses policy reformation impact on the same. A fundamental way to work on it would be to promote alternative options, such as carrying refillable water bottles and using jute and bamboo cutlery. While these alternatives do exist, their mere existence is not going to contribute to the cause. We need a National Action Plan that strategise on making them affordable and available.
Apart from this, even with the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, a 2019 Central Pollution Control Board report found that states and union territories have been lax in their preventive and regulatory measures. Our planet is on the verge of exhausting almost all of its natural resources and can no longer provide space for us to be lethargic in our efforts and mindset. The National Action Plan for phasing out Single-Use Plastics need to account for the strengthening of waste management systems. Our clock is ticking, and in this 11th hour of a worldwide climate emergency, we can’t afford ignorant debates on whether a ban on Single-Use Plastics is necessary or not. Businesses that fear an economic impact of such a ban need to start prioritising their social commitment over such fears and start shifting to sustainable production means. Alternatives are everywhere; we need to support their growth to make them convenient. We, at ECOmpany, welcome the policy reformations suggested by the draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021 issued by MoEFCC and hope it to be implemented with a positive mindset.