India bans single-use plastic to combat pollution

Announcing the ban, the government dismissed the demands of food, beverage and consumer goods companies to hold off the restriction to avoid disruptions.

But India, which uses about 14 million tons of plastic annually, lacks an organized system for managing plastic waste, leading to widespread littering.

Streets across towns are littered with used plastic goods that eventually choke drains, rivers and oceans and also kill animals.

India’s ban on single-use plastic items includes straws, cutlery, ear buds, packaging films, plastic sticks for balloons, candy and ice-cream, and cigarette packets, among other products, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said in a statement.

PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, India’s Parle Agro, Dabur and Amul had lobbied for straws to be exempted from the ban.

In a relief to consumers, the government has for now exempted plastic bags but it has asked manufacturers and importers to raise the thickness to promote reuse.

Other than the food and beverage and consumer goods companies, plastic manufacturers have also complained about the ban that they say did not give them adequate time to prepare for the restriction.

Some experts believe that enforcing the ban might be difficult. The government has decided to set up control rooms to check any illegal use, sale and distribution of single-use plastic products.

According to the United Nations, plastic waste is at epidemic proportions in the world’s oceans, with an estimated 100 million tons dumped there. Scientists have found large amounts of micro plastic in the intestines of deep-dwelling ocean mammals like whales.

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