On October 2, a nationwide single-use plastic ban will go into effect as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to reduce plastic pollution.
The ban will include: plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and certain types of sachets. It’s estimated to decrease India’s annual consumption of plastic (14 million tons) by 5-10 percent, an official told Reuters.
Why It Matters
India is home to some of the most polluted cities in the world.
Most cities in India don’t have processing plants. Approximately 70 percent of the plastic consumed is simply discarded, CNN reported.
Much of it ends up in places like the Ghazipur landfill, a mountain of trash that is estimated to grow taller than the Taj Mahal by 2020 (as of July 2019 the trash mound was 213 feet; the Taj is 240 feet high). The waste piled high at Ghazipur it is sorted by trash pickers—the poorest of the poor—who scavenge the “mountain” for recyclable plastic and aluminum to sell to recycling plants.
How The Ban Will Be Enforced
Some Indian states have already banned plastic bags. Punishments for offenders vary, but can range from fines to jail time.
It’s unclear what penalties offenders of the nationwide ban will face, but according to officials there will probably be a six-month period before introducing punishments to allow people time to adjust to the ban.
What Else Is Being Done
As India’s e-commerce market booms, so does plastic packaging. But soon, companies like Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart will begin to curb their single-use packaging. The change comes after Modi called on companies to reduce the plastic pollution they produce. Flipkart said it will make all of its packaging recyclable by March 2021; Amazon India announced they will replace all non-recyclable single-use plastic, like bubble wrap, in their packaging with paper padding by June 2020.