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Indian Government notifies Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016

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The Government of India has notified new plastic waste management rules, bringing into the picture the gram panchayats, extended producer responsibility, and also stipulating a minimum thickness of 50 microns for plastic carry bags. The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, replaces the earlier Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. The Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, said that the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from 40 microns to 50 microns. He stated that 15, 000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day, out of which 9,000 tonnes is collected and processed, but 6,000 tonnes of plastic waste is not being collected. The Minister said that notifying the new Plastic Waste Management Rules is a part of the revamping of all waste management rules. “This will help in achieving the vision of our Prime Minister of Swacchh Bharat and cleanliness is the essence of health and tourism.” The draft rules, namely the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2015 were published by the Government of India vide G.S.R. 423(E), dated 25 May, 2015 in the Gazette of India, inviting public objections and suggestions. Plastic-picThe Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 aim to: Increase minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 micron for plastic sheets also to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste; Expand the jurisdiction of applicability from the municipal area to rural areas, because plastic has reached rural areas also; To bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in plastic waste management system and to introduce take back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per extended producers responsibility; To introduce collection of plastic waste management fee through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic carry bags/multilayered packaging and vendors selling the same for establishing the waste management system; To promote use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilization of waste and also address the waste disposal issue; to entrust more responsibility on waste generators, namely payment of user charge as prescribed by local authority, collection and handing over of waste by the institutional generator, event organisers. An eco-friendly product, which is a complete substitute of the plastic in all uses, has not been found till date. In the absence of a suitable alternative, it is impractical and undesirable to impose a blanket ban on the use of plastic all over the country. The real challenge is to improve plastic waste management systems, which the government is aiming to do with its new rules.