Towards plastic-free world: All the steps taken this World Environment Day

A woman sits among plastic bottles segregated for recycling, at Bhopra near Nand Nagri, in New Delhi
People are observing Tuesday (June 5) as the World Environment Day, with "Beat Plastic Pollution" being the catchphrase. 

India, this year's organising nation, has planned several events to raise awareness on issues plaguing the environment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tweeted a message to protect and nurture nature.

The world's plastic production has increased 20 folds since 1964, says a report. It estimates that if the current trend continues, output will double in 20 years and it will further double again by 2050.

India alone generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic per day. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad were the biggest contributors, according to a 2015 Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report.

Here is how various Indian states and other countries are working to solve plastic pollution: 

1. Tamil Nadu to ban plastic from 2019: On the occasion of World Environment Day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami announced banning the use of plastic items, including non-biodegradable bags, from January 2019.

Late CM J Jayalalithaa had formed an expert panel that suggested banning plastic products, including bags, plates and cups, and recommended that traditional items such as plantain leaves and plates made of palm leaves be used, incumbent Chief Minister K Palaniswami said.

The ban is brought under an environment protection act of 1986.

2. Plastic ban in Maharashtra: Maharashtra, on 23rd March, became the 18th state in India to ban plastic

The ban covers plastic bags, disposable cups and plates, plastic cutlery, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic pouches and packaging, and thermocol.

In case of any violation, the manufacturers and users have to pay fine of Rs. 5,000.

3. WBPCB calls for banning single-use plastics: The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) on Tuesday gave a call for shunning single-use plastics.

"We can't go without plastics but we must stop dumping single-use plastic. We must refuse when vendors give us items in plastic packets which can't be used twice. That should be our resolve on the eve of World Environment Day on June 5," WBPCB Chairman Kalyan Rudra told reporters in Kolkata.

4. Plastic water pouches banned in Rajkot: The Rajkot Municipal Corporation on Monday announced that plastic water pouches will be banned on public roads, gardens and government offices from Tuesday.

A release issued by the civic body said violators of this ban will be penalised.

5. 50 nations working to reduce plastic: According to a UN report released on Tuesday, 50 nations are taking action to reduce plastic pollution.

It revealed that the Galapagos will ban single-use plastics and Sri Lanka styrofoam. China is insisting on biodegradable bags, reports the BBC.

The report said policies to combat plastic waste have had mixed results. In Cameroon, plastic bags are banned and households are paid for every kilo of plastic waste they collect, but still plastic bags are being smuggled in.

6. EU proposal to ban single-use plastics: On 28 May, the  European Union proposed a bloc-wide ban on single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery and cotton buds while urging the collection of most plastic drinks bottles by 2025.

The set of proposals are part of a growing EU drive to rid the environment of plastic waste which has begun showing up in the food chain.

"Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem," EU First Vice President Frans Timmermans said.

"Today's proposals will reduce single-use plastics on our supermarket shelves through a range of measures," Timmermans added.
With agency inputs

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