by Lucas Gu
On July 1st, 2022, India banned a number of disposable or single-use plastic products as part of a long-term plan to phase out this ubiquitous material. To employ this, The government identifies plastic items that have a high potential to become litter, such as plastic bags and plastic straws, and makes it illegal to make, purchase, distribute, or sell them. Although having good intentions, a straight up ban is not a complete solution. Banning something won’t work to alleviate an issue unless we can provide better alternatives.
Plastics have garnered widespread use and universal acceptance due to their durability, non corrosive nature, mold capacity and cost effectiveness. However, plastics are non-degradable, and because of the mass production and consumption of plastic, they have become one of the major issues of pollution due to it being very difficult to degrade naturally.
Taking the above reasons into consideration, India is taking bold steps to solve this issue, banning one of the most common materials used. As of July 1st, 2022, the government has banned 19 plastic items that have a high likelihood to become garbage and has made it illegal to produce, sell, store, or distribute them. These include items like plastic straws, plastic cups and plastic ice cream sticks.
However, this law has received widespread complaints. A local grocery vendor in India said that she felt overwhelmed in the weeks before the ban took effect, because alternative solutions to plastic were not made clear to her. “Plastic things are literally used everywhere,” she said.
After all, the customers of small street side vendors are so accustomed to the vendors providing them the goods in a bag. The thin, non-recyclable plastic bags are very cheap, so the vendor gives them for free. An environmentally friendly bag would cost much more than that. She said she agrees with the ban, but said that if some plastic products are stopped without an equally viable alternative solution, her business will be negatively affected. A law will be effective only when it is doable for the general public.
Aside from governmental efforts, everyday citizens can also help cut down on plastic waste in whatever way they can. For example, instead of expecting the vendors to provide plastic bags, citizens can carry some cloth bags in their vehicle’s trunk, So that whenever they get the opportunity to shop for household items, the bag is available Also, changes can be made to India’s plastic policies that will make plastic and eco-friendly at the same time. Currently, more than half of the plastics are not recyclable, and of those that are, only a portion is recycled. Hence, increasing the percentage of plastic that could be recycled, and recycling the recyclable ones is the best way to balance its adverse effects on the environment. In conclusion, with these potential changes both at the government and citizen level, there is great future for India to solve its plastic issues.