Episode 3: The Right Start — Beating the Single-Use Plastic Problem

Narrated by Sumit K. Yadav 

While it was earlier speculated and suggested that there will be a complete ban on single-use plastics, the government has instead announced a “mass movement to sensitise the public against the use of plastic”. This is to be accompanied by a gradual phasing out of plastic products, although when this phasing out will start is not been made clear.

But what does a ban actually entail? And how effective can it be? To answer these questions, we need to first understand what we are actually tackling.

Single Use Plastics are different kinds of foamed plastics which are rigid, durable and mostly used for packing. These are items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. Globally, these types of plastic packaging make for the largest industrial sector at 36%. single use- plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product. It means that by 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total “carbon budget” – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants.

However, a blanket ban on all things plastic may not achieve the results we seek; the ban will affect close to 10,000 plastic manufacturing units, impacting three to four lakh employees. While more than 60 countries have introduced bans and levies to curb single-use plastic waste, in 50% of the cases, information about their impact is lacking, partly because some countries have adopted them only recently and partly because monitoring is inadequate. In countries that do have data, about 30% have registered drastic drops in the consumption of plastic bags within the first year. The remaining 20% of countries have reported little to no change.

While the idea behind a blanket ban is commendable, the implications it carries must be considered before diving in. Phasing plastic products out seems like a better way to go, but this must be matched with real deadlines and strict implementation if we are to actually combat this issue.


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