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Biodegradable solutions for packaging of liquid dairy products

DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES

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India struggles to deal with mountains of plastic waste / Nationwide restrictions follow tighter state-level rules for sale and disposal / World's largest jute producer discovers renewables

India struggles to deal with mountains of plastic waste / Nationwide restrictions follow tighter state-level rules for sale and disposal / World's largest jute producer discovers renewablesMadhya Pradesh state has banned plastic bags and argued that discarded plastics are killing cows (Photo: Fotolia/Fabio de Blasis)To deal with the mounting problems of plastic waste, India is resorting to drastic means, including complete bans in some places. Nevertheless, environment minister Harsh Vardhan said there are no plans for a complete nationwide ban on plastic carrier bags ? made for the most part of polyethylene. The government, however, does intend to enforce plans announced last year to end the manufacture or sale of some thin packaging materials. According to BDB India (Pune, Maharashtra / India; http://bdbipl.com), an estimated 5.6m t of plastics waste is generated each year in the country (see Plasteurope.com of 20.04.2017).

In March last year, India?s national government published its Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 forbidding the manufacture and use of polyethylene carrier bags, plastic sheet and multi-layered packaging with a thickness of more than 50 microns. By August 2017, according to the environment ministry, altogether 17 states and territories had passed partial or complete bans ? some of these pre-dating the ministry?s announcement. Environmental organisations say there are no widely accepted estimates as to how much resonance the measures have actually found. In some cases, the plans have faced an uphill battle against the plastics industry.

To ease into the changes, initial nationwide efforts have focused on pilgrimage centres, tourist attrractions and historical places in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Efforts at enforcement, however have been hampered by the fact that tourists do not know about the bans and the tourism industry does not care.

In the Indian capital of New Delhi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT, New Delhi; www.greentribunal.gov.in) last year prohibited the use of disposable plastic items throughout the city, focusing especially on hotels, restaurants and for public and private functions. The municipal government ordered that ?appropriate steps? against the storage, sale and use of these materials be taken starting in January of this year. In August, as progress appeared negligible, the NGT repeated the ban and further toughened it, adding a passage ?completely prohibiting? the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags, with an eye in particular to bags handed out free in the city?s markets.

According to a government estimate two years ago, Delhi generates around 250,000 t of plastics waste annually, and every day more than 10m plastic bags are used and discarded ? far more than the city is able to deal with. Press reports say the municipal government and publicly owned companies have meanwhile collected nearly 9,000 kg of plastic, but it is still sitting in silos as there are no recycling facilities to dispose of it.

Other Indian states and municipalities are struggling to implement their own restrictions, including some passed years ago, such as in Himachal Pradesh, which in 2003 became the first state to ban the use of plastic altogether. Rag pickers were hired to collect bags discarded in the landscape. Due to the lack of recycling facilities, the waste, however was mixed with other waste and used in road construction.

At the end of 2015, the state of Uttar Pradesh ordered a complete ban on the manufacture, sale and use of throwaway plastics, followed in 2016 by similar restrictions in Karnataka, where the ban also applied to beads made of microplastic. With effect from January 2017, the Uttarakhand government issued a total ban on sale, use and storage of plastic bags, cups, glasses and packaging materials.

From 1 May this year, the government of Madhya Pradesh state banned plastic carrier bags, arguing among other things that the plethora of plastics discarded randomly was killing cows. It did not specify whether the ban applied to bags of a certain thickness. This and the lack of clear standards for implementation are said to have caused confusion among bag makers.

The latest state to try to deal with single-trip bags is Maharashtra, which said in September that all types of plastic bags would be banned, starting during Gudhi Padwa, the traditional New Year of Marathi Hindus, which falls in March and April 2018. Authorities called the plans "the next big step towards alleviating the plastic waste problem" after a 2005 ban on bags below 50 microns. Those restrictions followed a massive flooding deluge in Mumbai and surroundings, and after a similar deluge this year tighter restrictions were drawn up. As the rules are subject to additional approvals, there is no clarity as to when they will be implemented, reports said.

With limitations on sales of throwaway plastics gradually taking hold in India, Chinese plastic bag purveyors have built up a massive online presence advertising their wares. At the same time, enterprising minds in India are attempting to dull the public?s appetite for single-use materials. The National Institute of Design in partnership with dairy cooperative Amul is promoting environmentally friendly shopping bags of renewable materials. A first trial is under way in the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat with the first lot of 10,000 jute bags designed by Shanvi Gupta as part of a graduation project expected to be available by mid-December. India is the world?s largest raw jute producer, which makes it easy to obtain raw materials and generate employment through mass production, the project?s promoters say.04.12.2017 Plasteurope.com [237974-0]

» Publication Date: 04/12/2017

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, technological development and demonstration (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [606350].

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