"Plastic per se is not a problem, it is uncollected plastic waste that is", Indias Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in a Statement on a virtual event. Plastic has been a useful 20th century innovation, however uncollected plastic waste has emerged as a serious threat to the environment.
“Considering the adverse impacts of littered single use plastic items on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi gave a clarion call to phase out single use plastics by 2022, and the government has taken effective measures to manage plastic waste” said Javadekar.
The Environment Minister emphasized that Government of India has already banned import of plastic waste in the country. The minister further recalled that, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for the first time brought out Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, for handling plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner.
The importance of public participation in elimination of single use plastic
“Under the rules plastic carry bags below 50 microns have been banned. Many states/UTs have also banned identified single use plastic items. Further, the Ministry has issued a draft notification in March 2021 for amending the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, with respect to prohibiting identified 12 single use plastic items such as disposable plastic cutlery etc.”, stated Javadekar.
Stressing the importance of public participation in elimination of single use plastic items, the Environment Minister said that awareness generation on plastic waste management and reduction in use of single use plastic items is vital in bringing about behavioural change. With this mission the minister launched a two-month awareness generation campaign on plastic waste management and elimination of identified single use plastic items, which will comprise of four online regional events and a social media campaign. The regional events will include interactive sessions on various themes related single use plastics and plastic waste management and cover wide range of stakeholders from local bodies, pollution control boards, industry, civil society organizations and citizens.
India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021
To spur innovation and entrepreneurship in area of tackling plastic waste pollution and elimination of single use plastic, Javadekar announced the “India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021”. The “India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021” is a unique competition calling upon start-ups /entrepreneurs and students of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to develop innovative solutions to mitigate plastic pollution and develop alternatives to single use plastics.
Further in order to engage with and reach out to school students across the country and spread awareness about plastic pollution caused by littered single use plastic items, a Pan-India Essay Writing competition for school students was also announced.