How will it be possible to enforce the single-use plastic ban in India?

If we talk about the present day, the world is choking on plastic. We live in a world full of plastic. Honestly, one cannot imagine a single day without using plastic. We even breathe and eat plastic. Research has shown that we have been ingesting 5 grams of plastic yearly. No wonder we might see a new pandemic after 12 years just because of microplastics found in our bloodstreams and, that might be more deadly. To stop the “plastic pollution” from our country, India banned the use of ‘single-use plastic’ from 1 July 2022. Notification issued by the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change last year in August announced a ban on single-use plastic effective from July 2022, items like balloon sticks, plastic plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays, polythene bags, candy sticks to name a few are banned. Studies show that India accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s plastic waste. The ban on Single-use plastic should mark the start of a campaign to eliminate or reduce its use.

To enforce this ban, we should start acting on it now. Producers and consumers should be well-educated about the problems created by plastic use and find the best alternative. There should be advertisements in newspapers, TV commercials and social media platforms on the ban of single-use plastic to help people get informed about this ban in our country. On the other hand, companies need to research to find the best alternatives for plastic use. Government can provide funds to scientific labs to research developing the best and long-lasting alternatives to plastic. Today’s youth is very well aware of the health hazards caused by plastic. They should be active in spreading this news to other generations people, creating awareness about the negative impact of plastic on our earth. They should voluntarily take part in the process of enforcement of this ban. Nowadays, everyone is on social media, from teenagers to old age people. So in this view, social media will be an excellent option to make people aware of this ban. Government can hire legal officials to keep a check on the manufacturing industries, their import, export and their packaging materials. Government can impose strict actions like a ‘fixed fine’ against the import, distribution, use and sale of single-use plastic in India. The government can start programs where scientists, people, or entrepreneurs can come up with ideas for alternative plastic use. Government should educate mass people, especially consumers, through advertisements to stop using plastic items.

Government can also hire people who can go door-to-door and educate people to stop using plastic items. Rural people should be informed about this ban by using the door-to-door method as they stay a little away from the outside world. Some of the villagers are only confined to their small village, and they know significantly less about what is happening in the outside world. The State government should also take necessary steps to eliminate the use of plastic. Government should fund more paper companies and textile industries so that paper and clothing materials meet the demand in exchange for the use of plastic packaging. Government should look into the agriculture sector as well. Jute or bamboo can be an excellent alternative to plastic use. The production of jute and bamboo can help minimize the use of plastic packaging. We also have to understand that beating plastic pollution is not only our government’s responsibility; it is the responsibility of industries, brands, manufacturers, consumers or in simple language, each, every citizen’s duty living in this country to help enforce this ban and make this initiative successful. We have to find green alternatives to plastic. People should avoid using plastic in their daily lives. They should try to minimize plastic items and use paper or clothing items.

On the other hand, industry manufacturers, companies and producers should make strict laws against plastic use and ensure they do not provide any plastic packaging to the consumers. If the consumers deny using the alternative of plastic, the consumer should be no longer given any service. Restaurants can use paper straws instead of plastic straws. There should be a consumer complaint desk at any government office in every city or a consumer complaint number where people can complain against anyone who uses plastic items. School books should contain chapters informing about the health hazards of single-use plastics. This way, children will be aware of not using plastic items. Every generation should be aware, and only in that way can this ban be successfully enforced in India. We must make minor adjustments to our everyday routines in order to leave behind a better world for our children.

By Garima Tak

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