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Govt shelves plan on countrywide ban on single-use plastic products

The plan was for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to outlaw six items on Wednesday as part of a broader campaign to rid India of single-use plastics by 2022.

Reuters 

plastic, waste, environment, plastic pollution
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India has held off imposing a blanket ban on single-use plastics to combat pollution, officials said on Tuesday, a measure seen as too disruptive for industry at a time when it is coping with an economic slowdown and job losses.

The plan was for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to outlaw six items on Wednesday, the 150th anniversary of the birth of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, as part of a broader campaign to rid India of single-use plastics by 2022. But two officials said there would be no immediate move to ban plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and certain types of sachets and instead the government would try to curb their use.

For now, government will ask states to enforce existing rules against storing, manufacturing and using some single-use plastic products such as polythene bags and styrofoam, Chandra Kishore Mishra, the top bureaucrat at the ministry of environment, told Reuters.

“There is no new ban order being issued,” Mishra said. “Now, it’s a question of telling people about the ill-effects of plastic, of collecting and sending for recycling so people don’t litter.”

The government’s proposed countrywide ban had dismayed consumer firms, which use plastic in packaging for everything from sodas and biscuits to ketchup and shampoo.

The Confederation of Indian Industry, a lobby group, said the move had become an existential issue for several economic sectors because alternatives were not immediately available. It said small-sized plastic bottles used for pharmaceutical or health products should be exempted as there is no alternate available. Sachets made from so-called multi-layered packaging should also not be banned, as that could disrupt supplies of products like biscuits, salt and milk, the confederation said.

“There was a conscious decision within the government not to hit businesses hard for now and discourage use of plastic only on a voluntary basis,” said an official.

Plastic lives

  • PM Narendra Modi was to outlaw six items on 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
  • Environment secretary says “no new ban order”
  • Government will try to curb single-use plastic usage
  • Will ask states to enforce existing rules against manufacture, storage
  • Part of a broader campaign to rid India of single-use plastics by 2022
  • India currently uses about 14 million tonnes of plastic annually

First Published: Wed, October 02 2019. 01:14 IST
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