Single-use plastics – UPSC GS3

Single-use plastics:
  • Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.
  • They are not usually biodegradable and goes into a landfill where it is buried or it gets into the water and finds its way into the ocean.
  • They degrade into tiny particles after many years.
  • In this process of degradation, they release toxic chemicals (additives that were used to shape and harden the plastic) which make their way into our food and water supply.
Facts :
According to UNEP,
  • In 2015, plastic packaging waste accounted for 47% of the plastic waste generated globally, with half of that coming from Asia.
  • China was the largest worldwide generator of plastic packaging. The USA was the largest generator of plastic packaging waste on a per-capita basis, followed by Japan and the EU.
India would phase out single use plastic by 2022. However, there would be no blanket ban on single-use plastics.
EU ban on Single-use plastics:
  • The European Parliament has voted for an EU-wide ban on single-use plastic products such as the straws, cutlery and cotton buds that are clogging the world’s oceans.
  • The law on single-use plastic ban sets a target to gather 90 per cent of plastic for recycling by 2029 and mandates the production of plastic bottles with 25 per cent recycled material by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.
  • The law also insists on polluters pay principle by insisting polluters to pay the costs of a clean-up.
  • The measures are strengthened, particularly for cigarette manufacturers, who will have to support the recycling of discarded filters.
  • The “polluter pays” principle will be extended to manufacturers of fishing nets so that companies, not fishing crews pay the cost of nets lost at sea.
  • The products prohibited under the law represent 70 per cent of the waste that pours into the world’s oceans, posing a threat to wildlife and fisheries.
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