Notifying the new Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, the Centre has banned plastic carry bags below 50 microns in thickness, put greater responsibility on producers to collect back plastic waste and also extended the rules to gram panchayats. The fresh norms replace the 2011 version that was in effect since 2012.
According to the union environment ministry, nearly 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated per day in the country of which 6,000 tonnes does not even get collected. In India, approximately 12 million tonnes of plastic products are consumed every year, according to trade bodies.
The greater onus put on plastic producers is the biggest change in the new rules. Producers, importers and brand owners who introduce plastic carry bags, multi-layered plastic sachets or pouches will have to establish a system for collecting back the plastic waste generated by their products. Manufacturers of plastic items have been given six months to comply.
But more importantly, the operating license of plastic producers will be at stake if they don't prepare action plans to collect back plastic waste. In the 2011 version of the Rules, the onus of bringing producers in line was on the municipal and urban local bodies.
Producers of plastic and plastic items will have to submit these action plans to state pollution control boards when they apply for fresh 'Consent to Operate' license or during its renewal. As per the new rules, industries that have already renewed this license will have to prepare their action plans by March 2017.
The environment ministry has expanded the scope of the new norms even to villages. Gram Panchayats will now be responsible for implementation of these rules in collaboration with the state pollution control boards. Plastic manufacturers will also make payments to the state governments for disposal. This money will be provided to urban local bodies and panchayats for managing plastic waste.
In cities, even institutional generators of plastic waste will have to now segregate and store the waste generated in line with the Solid Waste Management Rules. While banning plastic bags below 50 microns thickness, the new rules have also sought phasing out of non-recyclable multilayered plastic by 2018.
While bringing institutional generators under its ambit, even those who organize functions in open spaces and serve food will now have to adhere to plastic waste rules, 2016. This means that marriage functions, public meetings, political rallies and religious gatherings will have to follow the new norms.