'Plastic disposal policy inappropriate, no good for protecting environment'

'Plastic disposal policy inappropriate, no good for protecting environment'

While bottles of mineral water, soft drinks and sealed beverages are increasingly becoming a major cause of pollution, nothing much is being done about recycling them, said Delhi-based environmentalists.


They cited focus of Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, on polythene bags and their thickness as a reason for this neglect towards plastic bottles.
However, the rules clearly mention that ‘plastic waste’ covers seven types of plastics, including water bottles (the first PET category).


Furthermore, the Act has rules which have piled on the responsibility of plastic disposal on the manufacturer with issuing no stringent guidelines on what consumers need to do.
Delhi generates over 2.5 lakh tones of plastic waste per day as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) figure of 689 tons per day.

“The city could have close to 1,000 recyclers but it could be more as there are several non-registered plastic recyclers and clogged cluster operations in backward localities. Most units are located in the outskirts — Bawana, Narela and Mangolpuri,” said Rajeev Betne, senior programme coordinator, Toxics Link.

He also highlighted that the Plastic Waste Rules, 2011, are weak as they do not cover the manufacturing aspect of plastics but cover only the waste management part of it.
“This is only the downstream or end of the pipe management aspects which are covered. This is a critical omission. Earlier, rules of 1999 and 2003 were amended as they covered only the manufacturing and usage aspect and neglected the waste part. We need to cater to both manufacturing and waste management,” said Betne.


Others highlighted the fact that nobody cares to know where tons of plastic bottles containing water or other beverages are thrown “carelessly after consumption”.
“Even authorities are conveniently passing the buck saying it is not covered under the amended rules,” said an expert from Chintan, an environmental NGO.


On the other hand, some experts said disposal of all plastic products is a huge problem with plastic water bottles being not an exception.
“At central and state levels, environmental regulatory agencies have adopted an ostrich policy in this regard. If there is political will, government can easily get the data for water bottles sold in Delhi,” said Gopal Krishna, convenor of Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA).
“The water bottle companies can be asked by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Environment Pollution Control Board to collectively or individually implement the ‘take back’ policy of water bottles,” said Krishna. 

He suggested if this is made compulsory and part of extended producers responsibility, manufacturers will be under the threat of losing their licence.


Experts added that sporadic experiments being conducted in India for using plastic waste for road making, cement kilns, ready and fuel making can help rectify this issue but argued that there is a definite need for setting up a mechanism for collection, segregation, reuse and recycling of plastic waste.

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