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Plastic Waste Poses Challenges And Offers Numerous Opportunities

The key challenges in India concerning plastic waste management are littering, segregation at source and lack of infrastructure for subsequent management.


World Environment Day this year focused on tackling plastic pollution and transitioning to a circular plastics economy. Plastic waste management has become a significant challenge globally, with only about 9 per cent of plastic being recycled according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data, and nearly half ending up in landfills. This highlights the opportunity to improve systems for collecting and managing plastic waste.

In 2022, world leaders endorsed a resolution to End Plastic Pollution and create a legally binding agreement by 2024. This resolution sought to address the entire lifecycle of plastic, from production to disposal. India has actively participated in related sessions and initiatives, highlighting the country’s commitment to addressing plastic waste.

In India, efforts to manage plastic waste began with the government’s ban on single-use plastics in 2019, specifying 18 plastic articles to be regulated. The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) launched in 2014 aimed to manage solid waste scientifically, with a focus on plastic waste management under SBM 2.0, launched in 2021. This aligns with the Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) Mission, which emphasises on individual action for a more sustainable future.

Key challenges in India’s plastic waste management include littering, source segregation, and a lack of infrastructure for proper waste management. Changing behaviours and promoting source segregation in a diverse and geographically vast country like India is a complex task. However, these challenges also present opportunities for livelihood creation and the growth of the waste management sector.

Policy drivers, such as the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Guidelines and the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, are promoting circular plastic packaging and driving investments in high-quality recycling. EPR is being extended to various materials beyond plastics, encouraging greater responsibility among producers.

Voluntary business initiatives, like the India Plastics Pact hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), bring together stakeholders across the plastics packaging value chain. With around fifty signatories, the Pact aims to eliminate 390 million problematic items from packaging.

Businesses in India are increasingly informed and committed to addressing environmental and sustainability issues, spurred by reporting requirements like the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR). They are developing more circular plastic packaging through research and development. The consistent implementation of strong policies by the government will further boost confidence in investments in advanced equipment and technology.

Solving the plastic waste management challenge requires collaborative action from governments, industries, civil society, and NGOs. This collective effort is crucial to ensure a greener earth for future generations.

For more insights on circular economy and how you can make a transition from linear economy, join us and the sustainability stalwarts from different industries on the 21st of November at The St. Regis, Mumbai. Register here https://bwevents.co.in/bw/the-sustainable-world-conclave-mumbai/#Register to grab your spot!

Plastic Waste Poses Challenges And Offers Numerous Opportunities

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