NEW DELHI: Ridding the single-use plastic nation by 2022 will be “Clean India (Swachh Bharat) Part 2,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said Thursday, adding that the government will be conducting a mega-public outreach program in the next three years to attain the goal.
After attaining the objective of constructing 100 million toilets as part of the’ Clean India ‘ program, the government’s next major priority is to phase out single-use plastic, the minister said in an interaction with PTI journalists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an end to single-use plastic to safeguard the environment in his speech on Independence Day. Since then, steps have been announced by the Center and multiple state governments to limit its use.
“As the first part of Clean India’s program was to establish 100 million toilets, plastic waste management is now becoming component 2 of Clean India,” Javadekar said.
“We’ve been importing plastic waste in big amounts and have enough of it that’s a issue. We’ve stopped it and banned it. Under Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, we’ve already banned plastic carrying bags below 50 microns,” he said.
He said the state was very serious about the plastic problem and that’s why the prime minister appealed with passion.
“He’s been creating public opinion for the last two months… and launching a public campaign to at least start by saying no to single-use plastic,” the minister said.
Javadekar said the nation generates 30,000 tons of plastic waste every day. 10,000 tons of plastic waste is not gathered from this.
Asked about the corporate reaction, including plastics producers, Javadekar said their reaction was impressive and options are coming forward.
“Industries have begun to think about options and now it will occur more quickly because individuals want biodegradable things… We are fundamentally improving the management of solid waste and plastic waste,” he added.
Plastic waste is increasing in rural regions, according to Javadekar, and there are no rules for gram panchayats.
“That’s where the government campaign comes in,” he said.
The government is working on two issues, the minister added,-gathering plastic waste and altering the practices of people.
The minister said countries had their own waste management legislation.
“We have a federal structure, so many countries have implemented their own waste management legislation. There are many limitations on the use and manufacture of plastics, but each state has a distinct system,” he said.
In earlier guidelines issued to states and territories of the Union, the Environment Secretary said that all government offices must ban all types of plastic bags, thermocol disposable cutlery and discourage the use of artificial banners, flags, flowers, water bottles plastic folders and the like.
“India is a vast country with 1.3 billion individuals, so it will take time to change behaviour. Toilets used to be built in earlier regimes, but not in this quantity, and people didn’t use it. This time the government campaign was initiated to use it. That’s behavioural change,” he said.
Other ministries also took the lead in eliminating plastic, Javadekar said, quoting the railways example that banned tea plastic cups.
“Every ministry has taken action … it’s a people’s movement and at the same time plastic manufacturers can also think about options and we’re enhancing the plastic waste management scheme. All working together approaches will make India free of plastic waste,” he said.