India bans single-use plastic

In a move which is increasingly part of a wider trend, India has imposed a ban on single-use plastics on items ranging from straws to cigarette packets.

The initiative is intended to combat worsening pollution and waste, given that rapid economic growth has fuelled demand for goods that come with single-use plastic products, such as straws and disposable cutlery.

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

Plastic waste has become a significant source of pollution in India, the world’s second most populous country.

India currently uses about 14 million tonnes of plastic annually, but lacks an organised system for managing plastic waste.

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

However, the government has for now exempted plastic bags from the move, but it has asked manufacturers and importers to raise the thickness to promote reuse.

The government is establishing 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 tonnes dumped there. 

Scientists have also found large amounts of micro plastic in the intestines of deep-dwelling ocean mammals like whales.