India banned some single use plastics on Friday as part of a plan to phase out the material.
The country generates around 4 million tons of plastic waste each year, a third of which is not recycled and ends up in waterways and landfills.
The move was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.
What do we know about the new plastic ban in India?
For the first phase, India identified 19 plastic items that are not very useful but have a high potential to become litter, such as plastic cups and straws. The ban makes it illegal to produce, import, store, distribute, or sell these items.
As we have mentioned in AmericanPost.Newssome disposable plastic bags will also be phased out to prevent pollution in India, while those below a certain thickness will be exempt from the ban.
The ban does not cover many other plastic products, including water bottles and potato chip packets, as well as products that have multi-layer packaging. Instead, the government has set targets for manufacturers to be responsible for recycling or disposing of items.
As of Friday, breaking the ban can land violators a maximum fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,265, 1,210 euros) or a five-year jail sentence.
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Why ban plastic?
Most plastic is not recycled globally and millions of tons of the material pollute the oceans and drinking water. In 2020, 4.1 million metric tons (4.5 million US tons) of plastic waste was generated in India alone, according to the New Delhi pollution watchdog.
Around half of the states and territories in India have already tried to impose their own regulations on plastics. While the new federal law will apply throughout India, enforcement will be in the hands of state and municipal agencies.
Companies in the plastics industry argue that alternatives to the material are expensive and have urged the government to delay the ban.
Satyarupa Shekhar, director of advocacy group Break Free from Plastic, said the ban is “too small both in scope and coverage” given the scale of the waste crisis. Ravi Agarwal of the Toxics Link campaign group welcomed the ban as a “good start” but stressed that its success will depend on implementation.
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