From cigarette butts to straws, govt considers ban on 12 plastic products

Topics Cigarettes | plastic | plastic ban

Cigarette butts, one of the biggest plastic pollutants in the world, are among a list of items the Centre will crack down on soon to stop the circulation of single-use plastic in the country.

Straws, small cutlery, plastic sticks used for ear buds, balloons, flags and candies, thin carry bags (less than 50 microns), and non-woven carry bags are on the list of 12 plastic pollutants that the the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has proposed be banned. Though cigarette butts have filters to make smoking safer, it is mostly made up of cellulose acetate — a type of plastic.

In a first, the CPCB has mooted a definition for single-use plastic: “Disposable plastics used for packaging only once before being disposed or recycled and which are non-biodegradable and remain in dumpsites, landfills or littered on streets and cause serious environmental or health hazards to our flora and fauna.”

In what could be a relief to beverage firms, only bottles of less than 200 ml will be barred from use, according to the proposal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech on August 15, had announced the intention of his government to ban “single-use” plastic. 

He reiterated this on Monday while addressing delegates from nearly 200 countries at the high-level segment of the 14th conference of parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Greater Noida.

“My government has announced that India will put an end to single-use plastic in the coming years. I believe the time has come for even the world to say goodbye to single-use plastic,” said Modi.

The beverages industry, however, is planning to request the CPCB to exclude plastic bottles, irrespective of size, from the list. Plastic bottles, less than or equal to 200 ml, is often used in hotels, airlines, banquet halls, etc.

“PET (polyethylene terephthalate) forward and backward chain economy in India is worth Rs 7.5 trillion, employing around 7.2 million people. PET bottles of 200 ml or below contribute to almost 40 per cent of this economy, which is mainly used by pharmaceuticals, personal care, home care, insecticides, juices, liquor, packaged drinking water and dairy industry,” said Pankaj Uppal, manager, public policy, PET Packaging Association for Clean Environment (PACE).

According to PACE, there is no alternative to such bottles in the market as these are “highly recyclable.” In a presentation on September 5, CPCB Chairman S P S Parihar sought a formal response from the plastic industry by September 11 on the proposed list of products — whether it requires any modifications or alternatives, present consumption and production quantities, difficulties anticipated in banning these items, and cost economics, among others.

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