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Down To Earth Magazine July 2022, Part 1 | Single Use Plastic Ban

Down To Earth is a fortnightly magazine focusing on politics of environment and development, published in New Delhi, India.

UPSC Previous years’ questions on Development, Environment, Health and Disaster Management give us a clear idea about the increased importance of DTE magazine.

DTE Magazine is one of the most important and indispensable source for UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation. Keeping this in mind, here, we come with ”Gist Of Down To Earth Magazine” which covers important environmental current affairs articles in smooth pointed form, keeping in mind the demand of UPSC aspirants.



  • India’s ban on certain items that are defined as single-use plastics has come into effect from July 1, in the midst of enormous pressure from certain industries to defer the deadline.
  • The fact is that the current ban on single-use plastics is too limited, though it is a critical step to control the menace.


Single Use Plastic Ban: What is single-use plastic?

  • As the name suggests, it refers to plastic items that are used once and discarded. Single-use plastic has among the highest shares of plastic manufactured and used — from packaging of items, to bottles (shampoo, detergents, cosmetics), polythene bags, face masks, coffee cups, cling film, trash bags, food packaging etc.


Single Use Plastic Ban: Dealing the Biggest Issue Of Cities!

  • Our cities are littered with non-biodegradable plastic material, and it is greatly adding to environmental stress and degradation.
  • The way ahead is to ensure that ubiquitous plastic items in our daily lives are recycled or disposed of safely. For this, we need a proper plan and strategy.


Single Use Plastic Ban: Three-pronged strategy

  • First, all the plastic produced and used should be collected for disposal.
  • Second, the waste plastic material must be recycled or incinerated—it should not reach landfills or choke our waterbodies.
  • Third, the reuse or disposal has to be in a manner that is environmentally friendly and does not end up creating more pollution or health hazard for workers.


Single Use Plastic Ban: Limitations Of Current Ban

Inadequate Enforcement

The ban on carry bags is not novel. As many as 25 states and Union Territories have already banned them, as per the latest report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The states say it is difficult to regulate this item based on plastic thickness. But we know that the enforcement is inadequate. This is why implementation of the new ban will make or break India’s fight against plastic waste.

List is Not Comprehensive

The current list of banned items is not comprehensive. One can argue that if the aim is to get rid of the items that are difficult to collect or are single-use, then this list should have included multi-layered packaging. This is what is used in almost all fast-moving consumer goods— from chips to shampoos to gutka pouches. This is the real menace when it comes to plastic contamination because these items are almost impossible to collect and absolutely impossible to process.

The only thing that can be done with this packaging material is to send it to cement plants for incineration. This is why the few studies—mostly done by cpcb—on the characteristics of plastic found in landfill sites show up this single-use plastic.

EPR(extended producer responsibility) Controversy

All packaging material has been included as part of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) notification.Under this, the companies that manufacture or consume this material are required to take it back and send it for reprocessing.  Even company wise annual targets have been fixed on how much is to be recollected. This sounds good on paper, but there are huge problems in the way epr has been designed or is being implemented. For instance, there is no information on the quantity of this plastic material or the waste the company generates. Not only is it based on self-declaration, but there is nothing available in the public domain to assess its accuracy. This means the target that has been set for each company is meaningless. There is no benchmark on which it can be said to be adequate. Worse, under epr, companies are required to recycle or reprocess the material they collect only by 2024.



Millions of poor people working in the informal sector who manage to make value out of our refuse. They are the real waste warriors. It is time we understood this so that we become responsible for our own waste and not use the banned items today, and ask for more to be banned tomorrow—because we must and can live without them.

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