UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | A half-hearted ban | 22nd July 2022

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What the article is about:

  • The article talks about the ban on single-use plastic under plastic waste management rules, 2021 and the impact of ban on businesses.

Issues with the Ban:

  • This ban would only target 2-3% of the total plastic produced, as FMGCs (fast-moving consumer goods) like sachets and packaging of products like chips, and biscuits have been excluded from the ban.
  • The global movement, Break free from plastic found in its audit that much of the plastic pollution was caused by products from the top brands.

Why banning plastic packaging in IndianFMGC is not a viable option:

  • In 2015, a report by FICCI and strategy consultants strategy & plastic packaging argued that banning FMGC would affect the processed food industry.
  • Report says that a ban on FMGC packaging would have a significant impact on the entire chain ( the backward linkage in plastic production).

Shortcomings in the rules:

  • The 2021 rules treats SUPs( single use plastic) generated by FMGC and non- FMGc differently.
  • Accountability measures have been introduced in a diluted form, allowing for the use of these toxic materials by paying a small fee.

Impact on businesses:

  • The limited ban on SUPs will not impact the big players who will continue to produce for the non- FMGC category.
  • However, some of the 30,000 MSME units would be significantly impacted.

Impact on informal sector and employment:

  • There is no government hand- holding of the MSMEs to enable them to transition into another industry. Therefore,MSME and  informal sector will be largely impacted, both on the production and use side.
  • The absence of alternative forms of livelihood will contribute to the employment crisis in the country.

What can be done:

  • Government should start by re-visioning the retail system.
  • The focus should be on moving away from the use and throw economy to one which is designed for reusable and sustainable packaging.

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