Environment vs Economy: Why govt is going slow on single-use plastic ban

After Modi’s call on August 15, industry bodies like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) had raised major concerns
The Plastic Waste Management Act (2016) was passed by Parliament with the ultimate aim of reducing plastic waste generation in the country and eliminating single use plastic completely by 2022. As India enters 2021, this target seems unrealistic.

In his address to the nation from the Red Fort on Independence Day in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had vowed to take the Indian people along in a nationwide commitment to end the use of single use plastic. In October, 2019, he said there would be no ban on single use plastic, just a gradual phase-out of its use by 2022. Many felt this was a compromise in itself: It is not hard to understand why.

The worst form of single-use plastics is the multi-layered packaging used in sachets for packing and storing tobacco products such as gutkha. Many other eatables like chocolates, biscuits, chips and liquid food products are packed in them.

After Modi’s call on August 15, industry bodies like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) had raised major concerns.  A ban on single-use plastics would have multi-factoral effects on industry, a study by FICCI had said. Such a ban would increase the price of most FMCG products as manufacturers would try and shift to alternative packaging. The study had said a ban would wipe out various low price point products (those that cost less than Rs 5, such as shampoo sachets, detergent pouches and biscuit packets) as production at these price points would become unviable.

FICCI had also said the Rs 53,000 crore-plus segment of the plastic manufacturing industry would be hit because of a ban, leading to job losses. As many as 1.3 million across 10,000 firms would immediately lose their jobs. The food processing industry would suffer from a revenue loss of Rs 90,000 crore.

Most states have banned the use of single use plastic. But unregistered units continue to produce this variant. Covid-19 has added to the problem because of the boost to the takeaway food industry. 



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