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Ban on single-use plastics kicks in; traders cry foul
The banned items include use and throw plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays, straws etc. Shopkeepers who began replacing these products complained that any alternatives are going to be costly, and will raise the prices of consumer goods. Besides, raw materials for replacements are also scarce. However, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav claimed all manufacturers and stockists were given one full year to prepare for the changeover and they had been told to achieve zero inventory of such items before June 30.

NEW DELHI, July 2: The ban on single-use plastics came into effect in India on Friday. These plastic items were meant for use once and discarded causing high levels of environmental pollution. They are also not recycled. Norway, Denmark and several other countries have welcomed the ban in India.

The banned items include cutlery such as plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays, etc and earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic flags and sticks for balloons, polystyrene (thermocol).

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, in August last year to ban manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of single-use plastic items from July 1, 2022.

According to a Government release, the banned items include ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.

Shopkeepers and restaurants who began replacing plastic spoons, straws, plates and other single-use plastic products complained that any alternatives are going to be costly. Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have said the ban will impact the prices of foods, beverages and other commodities. They have also said that not enough alternatives are available yet and sought a phased ban.

The manufacturers say the alternatives lack efficacy and the raw materials to produce them are also scarce.

But Minister Bhupender Yadav said only those items that have low utility, high littering potential and for which alternatives are available are being phased out now. All manufacturers and stockists had been told to achieve zero inventory of such items before June 30.

The Union Environment Minister has said the notification for the ban was issued in August last year and the manufacturers were given one year to prepare for the changeover.

The Act provides for punishment of imprisonment of violators for up to five years with a fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh, or both. Continued violation may attract an additional fine extending up to Rs 5,000 for every day. Beyond a year, the punishment will increase. Moreover, there are different penalties for companies, organisations and Government departments.

The single-use plastic manufacturing industry employs 200,000 people directly and is worth Rs 10,000 crore.

India had moved a resolution on single-use plastic pollution at the 4th UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in 2019.

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