Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 – UPSC Prelims

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021:
The rules aim to prohibit the use of specific single-use plastic items which have “low utility and high littering potential” by 2022.
Key Provisions of the Rules:
  • Range of Plastics Banned: The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of the following single-use plastic commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July, 2022:
    • Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [Thermocol] for decoration;
    • Plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, wrapping or packaging films around sweet boxes, invitation cards,  and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.
  • The thickness of Plastic bags:
    • The permitted thickness of the plastic bags, currently 50 microns, will be increased to 75 microns from 30th September 2021, and to 120 microns from 31st December 2022.
    • This is because plastic bags with higher thickness are more easily handled as waste and have higher recyclability.
  • Plastic Wastes not banned:
    • Compostable Plastics: The ban will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.
    • Instead of using plastic made from petrochemicals and fossil fuels, compostable plastics are derived from renewable materials like corn, potato, and tapioca starches, cellulose, etc. These plastics are non-toxic and decompose back into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass when composted.
    • Plastic Packaging waste which is not covered under the phase-out of identified single-use plastic items should be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility is a policy approach in which producers take responsibility for the management of the disposal of products they produce once those products are designated as no longer useful by consumers.
Other Plastic Commodities:
  • For banning other plastic commodities in the future, other than those that have been listed in this notification, the government has given the industry ten years from the date of notification for compliance.
Implementation of Rules:
  • The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose penalties already prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
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