In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for freeing India from “single-use plastic”. The environmental harm caused by plastic has been the subject of international research and government reports over the years.
Worldwide, 75 per cent of all plastic produced is waste, and 87 per cent of this is leaked into the environment. A study by the University of Newcastle, Australia, and published by the World Wildlife Foundation this year concluded that an average person may be ingesting 5 grams of plastic every week. Over one-third of plastic waste ends up in nature, especially water, which is the largest source of plastic ingestion according to the report. India ranks number three in terms of plastic fibres found in a sample of tap water – 82.4 per cent of tap water sampled in India contained over four plastic fibres per 500 ml, the study found.
In India, the last Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report that assessed adherence to the Plastic Waste Management Rules was published for 2017-18. The Rules were amended in 2018. As per the 2017-18 report, only 14 states and UTs had submitted their annual reports to the CPCB. Of these 14, Uttar Pradesh generated 2.06 lakh TPA (tonnes per annum) plastic waste and had 16 unregistered manufacturing/recycling units. Gujarat followed with 2.6 lakh TPA of plastic waste generated and zero unregistered manufacturing/recycling units.