Plastic bags, cups, straws and other single-use products are going to be swept out of India on October 2.
This is a substantial undertaking, as several cities and villages in India have been raked as the most polluted in the world, Ecowatch reports, so it’s no coincidence the measure has been scheduled for the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
India’s Prime minister, Narendra Modi, wants to see single-use plastics eradicated by 2022. Modi is leading the effort, starting by banning the manufacturing, usage and import of plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and plastic sachets.
Modi announced the measure on India’s Independence Day, August 15, asking individuals and organizations to make a conscious effort to rid the country of plastic contamination. This ban could potentially reduce India’s plastic consumption by as much as 10 percent, about 14 million tons of plastic a year.
The ban will shave 5-10 percent from India’s annual consumption of about 14 million tonnes of plastic.
Some states in the country have already begun enforcing bans on non-recyclable polythene bags. Penalties for breaking the new plastic ban will be implemented six months after the October 2 roll out, giving people time to find recyclable alternatives, the only type of plastic that will be allowed after the ban goes into full effect.
Outside of the six single-use items named in the ban, Modi’s parliament is also asking e-commerce companies to find more responsible ways of packaging, without relying on plastic. Plastic packaging found on products from Amazon.com and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart now make up as much as 40% of the country’s total plastic consumption.
According to Reuters, about half of all single-use plastic products eventually kill marine life and wind up in the human food chain.
India is not the first to enact a ban on single-use plastics. The European Union hopes to ban such items by 2021. The catering industry in Shanghai, China, is also moving away from single-use plastics toward recyclable items, while the inland province of Hainan intends to ban single-use plastics completely by 2025.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.