The ban on single-use plastic items, including wrapping or packaging films, plastic cutlery, straws, and plastic sticks for balloons and earbuds, will come into effect from July 1.
Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav said the notification for the ban was issued in August last year and manufacturers were given one year to prepare. “Moreover, we have a 10-year policy on plastic waste and phase-out. They should have been prepared by now.”
The Union environment ministry notified the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2021, under the Environment Protection (EP) Act on August 12, 2021. It said a violation of the ban will lead to all punitive actions prescribed under the Act.
Additional secretary (environment ministry) Naresh Pal Gangwar said punitive action can be taken for stocking, distribution, sale, manufacture, and use of these items. Gangwar said all manufacturers and stockists have been directed that they should have zero inventory by June 30.
Hiten Bheda, the chairman of AIPMA’s environment committee, said the ban has thrown up many challenges for the units and switching over to alternatives to cater to their current market is one of them. “…the so-called alternatives do not necessarily provide the same functionality, not to mention the availability of raw materials to produce them.”
Bheda said the higher cost of alternatives is a major challenge towards acceptability. “It will be a while before adequate capacity builds up for raw materials required as well as processing capacity to cater to the quantum required. It would have been prudent to have alternatives in place before enforcing phase out as we are now faced with the dilemma of compromising food safety, health safety and consumer convenience while we search for viable alternatives.”