Green Initiative for Effective Plastic Waste Management
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In April 2022, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched the Awareness Mascot ‘Prakriti’& Green Initiatives for Effective Plastic Waste Management.
What Green Initiatives Have Been Launched?
The MoEFCC has created a National Dashboard on Single Use Plastic (SUP) Elimination and Plastic Waste Management to bring all stakeholders, including central ministries/departments and state/UT governments, together in one place to track progress toward SUP elimination and effective plastic waste management.
CPCB's Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Portal for Plastic Packaging, which improves accountability, traceability, transparency, and ease of trying to report adherence to EPR Commitments by producers, importers, and brand-owners.
CPCB's Mobile App for Solitary Use Plastics Grievance Redressal, which empowers citizens to check sale/use/manufacturing of SUP in their area and combat the plastic menace.
CPCB has developed a monitoring module for single-use plastics (SUPs) for local governments, State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs), and the CPCB to track SUP manufacture, sale, and use in commercial establishments at the district level, as well as on-the-ground implementation of the SUP ban.
The National Institute of Health and Environment and the National Research Development Corporation are working together to commercialise graphene made from waste plastic in order to encourage more businesses to upcycle plastic waste.
What is Plastic Waste?
Unlike biodegradable wastes such as paper, food peels, and leaves, which can be degraded by microbes or other living things in nature, plastic garbage lingers in the environment for hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of years due to its non-biodegradable nature.
The due to plastic debris in the environment causes plastic pollution. Initial plastics, such as cigarette butts and bottle caps, are classified as primary, whereas secondary plastics, which emerge from the decomposition of primary plastics.
India produces over 3.5 million tonnes of waste each year, with per capita plastic pollution creation nearly doubling in the last five years.
Our ecosystems are harmed by plastic pollution, which is also related to environmental pollution.
Major Challenges to Plastic Waste Management
Plastic that enters the environment via interior streams, wastewater outputs, and wind or tidal transport cannot all be filtered out once it reaches the ocean in the form of microplastics/microbeads.
Plastics have generated an island of waste called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as they drift with ocean currents.
False biodegradable and compostable plastics are entering the market because of lack of rigorous testing and certification to validate claims made by manufacturers.
Besides the plastics we use through retail stores, the growth of online retail and meal delivery applications, which are now only available in major cities, is adding to the surge in plastic trash.
Microplastics can float for long distances in seawater or settle to the seafloor after entering the aquatic environment. Microplastics in the sky are trapped by clouds and falling snow, according to a recent study.
Microplastic particles are commonly white or opaque in colour, which are commonly mistaken by many surface-feeding fishes as food (plankton) and can even move up the food chain to human consumers (from eating contaminated fish/seafood/shellfish).
Raising public awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution through educational and outreach activities in order to change behaviour.
Finding alternatives to use-and-throw plastic and securing livelihood opportunities for producers, waste pickers, and other stakeholders in the industry will go a long way toward resolving the issue.
The state should not only impose fines for failing to follow the requirements, but provide incentives for producers to transition to more environment friendly materials. Promoting responsible consumerism, in addition to proper monitoring, is critical.