Production of plastic waste in India has doubled in 5 years

Representative image.

Responding to a question posed to the Lower House of Parliament, Indian Minister of State for the Environment Ashwini Choubey said plastic waste production in India had more than doubled in the past five years with an annual increase average of 21.8%.

Over 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2019-20 and 30.59 lakh tonnes in 2018-19. According to data shared by the minister, over the past five years, the amount of plastic waste in the country has more than doubled, with the country producing 15.89 lakh tonnes of plastic waste in 2015-16.

The ministry statement added that the annual data on the production of solid waste, plastic waste, electronic waste, construction and demolition waste (C&D), biomedical waste (BMW) and hazardous waste (HW) in the country are compiled by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

“Based on the studies carried out by the CPCB on hazardous waste and the data compiled for other waste, the observed average annual increase in the production of hazardous waste is 2%, that of biomedical waste is 5.8% , that of solid waste of 0.1% and plastic waste 21.8% ”, declared the Minister in his written answer. He said the data is collected from the respective State Pollution Control Boards / Pollution Control Committees (SPCB / PCC), in accordance with the provisions contained in various rules notified under the Environmental Law. (protection) of 1986.

Responding to another question on biomedical waste, the Minister said that India produced 677 tons of biomedical waste per day in 2020 while in 2019 it produced 619 tons of BMWs per day. In 2015, the BMW produced in India was 502 tons per day, according to the data. Responding to another question on the number of complaints received about the unscientific or illegal disposal of biomedical waste across the country, the minister said the CPCB received a total of 23 public complaints between 2016 and 2021.

As the Down to Earth website points out, the Draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021, released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on March 11, required some changes in the management by the country of its plastic waste. . First, the amendment extended the applicability of the rules to the brand owner, the processor of plastic waste, including the recycler, co-processor, etc. It will also include new definitions of non-woven plastic bags, plastic waste handling, single-use plastic (SUP), thermosetting plastic and thermoplastic bags.

According to Down to Earth, up to 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in India in 2018-19, according to the CPCB 2018-19 report. This translates to approximately 9,200 tonnes per day. The total municipal solid waste generation is 55 to 65 million tonnes; plastic waste represents around 5 to 6% of the total solid waste generated in the country. Goa has the highest per capita plastic waste production at 60 grams per capita per day, almost double what Delhi generates (37 grams per capita per day). The annual report has been compiled on the basis of SPCB submissions, although the source of the data provided is unclear as no national survey has been conducted so far. It is important to note, however, that the report’s estimates are significantly lower than those mentioned in the 2015 CPCB report on the assessment and quantification of plastic waste production in large cities. He extrapolated the data based on the results of 60 cities in India. He said nearly 25,940 tonnes per day (about 9.4 million tonnes per year) of plastic waste was being generated in the country.

Despite the plastic waste management legislation of 2011, followed by many changes in the recent past, most parts of the country lack systematic efforts to mitigate the risks associated with plastic waste, adds Down to Earth. States did not start providing data on the same topic until 2018-19 for the first time. A legal obligation has been reduced to a mere formality, and there is a lack of concern, motivation, awareness, respect and enforcement of the rules.

The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in its 2019 Good News from India report claimed that India recycles over 60% of its plastic, which was well above the capacity of recycling from any developed country. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the lack of a functioning solid waste management system in India places a burden on landfills and poor socio-economic conditions of waste pickers, mostly women.

Bryce K. Locke