Easier said than done

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/4/2019 11:48:06 AM IST

 As with the union budget which boasted of taking India into a $5 trillion economy, which evidently did not sync with ground realities and instead compelling the government to announce a series of roll backs; the same fate appears to have overcome the pledge to make India plastic-free in 2018 on World Environment Day. The government has not put in place a clear roadmap with timelines to meet the 2022 deadline for eliminating single-use plastics. Recent announcements on phasing out single use plastics have not made any mention of the plan to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022 opting instead for the more indefinite “in the coming years”. The plan was for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to outlaw six items on October 2, 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. The prevailing economic slowdown and the prospect of more job losses have prevented the NDA government, characteristically not known for restraint and moderation, from rushing into a knee-jerk decision. As of now, single-use plastic will not be allowed only inside national monuments and within 100 metres of their boundary. For now, government has left it to state government to enforce existing rules against storing, manufacturing and using some single-use plastic products such as polythene bags and styrofoam, said a top bureaucrat at the ministry of environment. The Confederation of Indian Industry(CII), a lobby group, said the move had become an existential issue for several economic sectors because alternatives were not immediately available. Plastic waste is at epidemic proportions in the world’s oceans with an estimated 100 million tonnes dumped there to date, according to the United Nations. Scientists have found large amounts of micro plastic in the intestines of deep-dwelling ocean mammals like whales. India, which uses about 14 million tonnes of plastic annually, lacks an organised system for management of plastic waste, leading to widespread littering. It may be easy to talk of ban on single-use plastic, but almost impossible to implement it because there seems to be no alternative. Single-use plastic like shopping bags, bottles, utensils and straws are cheap , convenient and easily available. Today, many other plastic items are designed to be used just once, delivering benefits beyond convenience and cost savings and ultimately supporting public health. For example, single-use plastic products that prevent the spread of infection are crucial in the medical industry. Instruments such as syringes, applicators, drug tests, bandages and wraps are often made to be disposable. Furthermore, single-use plastic products have been enlisted in the fight against food waste, keeping food and water fresher for longer and reducing the potential for contamination. The greatest threat posed by single-use plastic is in the way they pollute the environment. On this, perhaps there could be methods such as the policy adopted by some state governments like Himachal Pradesh to buy-back non-recyclable plastic waste while plastic disposal machines are being installed at railway stations and public areas. The other method is the plan by the Indian Oil Corporation to turn single-use plastic into specialised bitumen for construction of roads and highways. The only alternative to carry bag is jute or paper products but these are expensive and will add to the shopping cost besides being cumbersome and non-water resistant. Hopefully, an alternative could be found to single-use plastic but when it happens will take a long time.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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