INDIA: Plastic per se is not a problem, uncollected plastic waste is, said Shri Prakash Javadekar, Union Environment Minister, India while announcing Plastic India Hackathon to develop innovative alternatives to single-use plastics.
Reiterating the government’s commitment to phase out identified single-use plastic items which have low utility and high adverse environmental impact, Javadekar said that though plastic, was a useful 20th-century innovation, 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, Hon’ble 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 Shri Javadekar.
The Environment Minister emphasised that the Government of India has already banned the 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. “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 the elimination of single-use plastic items, the Environment Minister said that awareness generation on plastic waste management and reduction in the 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 the elimination of identified single use plastic items.
GIZ, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) along with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, are organising the two-month-long awareness campaign which will comprise of four online regional events and a social media campaign to spread the message of mitigation plastic pollution to a wider audience. The regional events will include interactive sessions on various themes related to single-use plastics and plastic waste management and cover a wide range of stakeholders from local bodies, pollution control boards, industry, civil society organizations and citizens.
To spur innovation and entrepreneurship in the 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.
The virtual event was also attended by Shri R P Gupta ,Secretary, Ministry of Environment ,Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, Mr. Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Government of Germany and Dr. Dechen Tsering, Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific, UN Environment Programme were present during the launch along with Secretary General, FICCI, Head, UNEP India Country Office and Country Director, GIZ India.
The pandemic has also added much to aggravate the situation; used PPE Kits, Masks and others that are thrown around after use is a cause of concern.
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