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 gave a clarion call to phase out single use plastics by 2022. Littered plastic waste on land is recognized as a major source of marine plastic litter. Plastic waste management on the land side will significantly contribute to the reduction in marine plastic litter spread across our oceans and will be instrumental in maintaining the integrity of marine ecosystems. The United Nations has designated 8th June as World Oceans Day.
Awareness generation on plastic waste management and reduction in use of single use plastic items will be important in bringing about behavioural change. GIZ, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) along with Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, are organizing the two-month long awareness campaign on the topic plastic waste management and elimination of identified single use plastic items.
On the occasion of World Oceans Day, a two-month awareness generation campaign on plastic waste management and elimination of identified single use plastic items was launched by Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister 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 awareness programme will consist of four on-line regional events and a social media campaign to spread the message of mitigation of 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. On the Occasion Shri Prakash Javadekar reiterated the commitment to phase out identified single use plastic items which have low utility and high adverse environmental impact in line with the call of Hon’ble Prime Minister. He emphasized that in order to tackle plastic waste, the Government of India has already imported plastic waste in the country. Shri Prakash Javadekar also said that though plastic is a 20th century innovation and a useful thing still there is a problem due to uncollected plastic waste. It becomes a menacing problem when people do not dispose in a proper manner.
Shri Prakash Javadekar highlighted that the present Government under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister has taken effective measures to manage plastic waste. To spur innovation and entrepreneurship in the area of tackling plastic waste pollution and elimination of single use plastic, “India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021” was announced. 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.
Already the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had notified 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 on 11th March 2021 for amending the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, with respect to prohibiting identified twelve single use plastic items such as disposable plastic cutlery in 2022. Shri Prakash Javadekar stressed the importance of public participation in elimination of single use plastic items.