India imposes ban on many single-use plastics to rescue choking rivers

Jul 1, 2022: According to a report by AFP, India imposed a ban on many single-use plastics on Friday in a bid to tackle waste choking rivers and poisoning wildlife, but experts say it faces severe opposition from unprepared manufacturers and consumers unwilling to pay more.

The country generates around four million tonnes of plastic waste per year, about a third of which is not recycled and ends up in waterways and landfills that regularly catch fire and exacerbate air pollution.

Stray cows munching on plastic are a common sight in Indian cities and a recent study found traces in the dung of elephants in the northern forests of Uttarakhand state.

The new ban covers the production, import and sale of ubiquitous objects like straws and cups made of plastic as well as wrapping on cigarette packets.

Products such as plastic bags below a certain thickness and so-called multi-layered packaging are exempt for now.

Inspectors are set to fan out from Friday checking that no suppliers or distributors are flouting the rules at risk of a maximum fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,265) or five-year jail sentence.

Firms in the plastics industry, which employs millions of people, say that alternatives are expensive and they have been lobbying the government for a delay to the ban.

Global Data analysts said small packs with plastic straws make up 35 percent of soft drinks volumes, meaning manufacturers will be “badly hit”.

Jigish N. Doshi, president of industry group Plastindia Foundation, expects “temporary” job losses but said the bigger issue was firms “which had invested huge capital for machines that may not be useful” after the ban.

One young company trying to be part of the change is Ecoware, which makes disposable bio-degradable products at its factory outside Delhi.

Chief executive Rhea Mazumdar Singhal says that the appalling state of landfills and widespread plastic consumption inspired her venture.

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