UPSC Courses

DNA banner


  • 06 December, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Plastic's Life Cycle

Plastic's Life Cycle

  • According to a recent document titled "The Plastic Life-Cycle," India is not properly collecting and recycling its polymer waste.
  • The document emphasized that the problem will not be solved unless the entire life cycle of plastic, from source to disposal, is considered as the root cause of the pollution it causes.

What is plastic waste?

  • Unlike other forms of waste, such as paper, food peels, and leaves, which are biodegradable (capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms) in nature, plastic waste persists in the environment for hundreds (or even thousands) of years.

The Most Polluting Plastic Waste:

  • Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are less than five millimeters in size.
  • Microplastics include microbeads (solid plastic particles with the largest dimension of less than one millimeter) used in cosmetics and personal care products, industrial scrubbers, textile microfibers, and virgin resin pellets used in plastic manufacturing processes.
  • Large pieces of plastic that have not been recycled break down into microplastics as a result of sun exposure and physical wear.
  • Single-use plastic is a disposable material that can only be used once before being discarded or recycled, such as plastic bags, water bottles, soda bottles, straws, plastic plates, cups, most food packaging, and coffee stirrers.

Problems Involved:

More Plastic Per Person:

  • Every day, approximately 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste go uncollected.

Unsustainable Packaging:

  • The packaging industry in India is the largest consumer of plastics.
  • According to a 2020 study on packaging in India, unsustainable packaging will cost nearly 133 billion dollars in plastic material value over the next decade.
  • Unsustainable packaging consists of general packaging made of single-use plastic.

Online Delivery:

  • Although limited to major cities, the popularity of online retail and food delivery apps is contributing to the rise in plastic waste.
  • Swiggy and Zomato, India's largest online delivery startups, reportedly deliver about 28 million orders per month.

Disrupts the Food Chain:

  • Plastic pollution can harm the world's smallest organisms, such as plankton.
  • When these organisms become poisoned as a result of plastic ingestion, the larger animals that rely on them for food suffer.

What are India's challenges in terms of plastic waste management?

  • Plastic waste management consists of two distinct steps: collection and recycling.
  • End-of-life care.
  • Both are not carried out properly in India.

Inadequate Implementation and Monitoring:

  • Local governments, producers, importers, and brand owners are responsible for collecting plastic waste.
  • However, ragpickers, not authorities, collect the majority of plastic waste in India.
  • In India, as much as 42% - 86% of plastic waste flows through the informal sector to material recovery facilities run by multinational corporations in collaboration with local governments or otherwise.
  • According to the Indian government, 60% of the country's plastic waste is recycled. This, however, is limited to specific types of polymers (plastics), such as PET bottles.
  • According to a statistical analysis conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment using data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India recycles only 12% of its plastic waste (via mechanical recycling).

Waste Burning:

  • Close to 20% of plastic waste is diverted to end-of-life solutions such as co-incineration, plastic-to-fuel, and road construction, implying that India is burning 20% of its plastic waste.

What should our strategy be going forward?

Locating Hotspots:

  • Identifying key hotspots of plastic leakage associated with plastic production, consumption, and disposal can help governments develop effective policies that directly address the plastic problem.
  • Designing Alternatives: The first step is to identify plastic items that can be replaced with non-plastic, recyclable, or biodegradable materials.
  • Promoting the use of Oxo-biodegradable plastics, which are designed to degrade faster than regular plastics due to ultraviolet radiation and heat.
  • Recycling via Technology and Innovation: Waste is valuable, and waste, particularly plastic, is a resource. Recycling, particularly plastic recycling, establishes a system that creates a value chain for waste.
  • Circular Economy for Plastic Management: The circular economy reduces material use, redesigns materials to be less resource intensive, and reclaims "waste" as a resource for the manufacture of new materials and products.
  • The circular economy can also significantly contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals.

What is India Doing for Plastic Waste Management?

  • National Dashboard on Elimination of Single-Use Plastic and Plastic Waste Management:
  • India launched a nationwide awareness campaign on Single Use Plastics on World Environment Day in June 2022.
  • A mobile app for Single Use Plastics Grievance Redressal was also launched to empower citizens to check sale/usage/manufacturing of SUP in their area and tackle the plastic menace.

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2022:

  • It prohibits the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of several single-use plastic items as of July 1, 2022.
  • It has also mandated Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) that incorporates circularity by making manufacturers of products responsible for collecting and processing their products upon the end of the product’s lifetime.

India Plastics Pact:

  • It is the first of its kind in Asia. The Plastics Pact is an ambitious and collaborative initiative to bring stakeholders together to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics within the material’s value chain.

Mascot 'Prakriti':

  • To spread awareness among masses about small changes that can be sustainably adopted in lifestyle for a better environment.

Project REPLAN:

  • Project REPLAN (stands for REducing PLastic in Nature) launched by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) aims to reduce the consumption of plastic bags by providing a more sustainable alternative.

Source: Down To Earth

Ahom Burial Mounds in Assam

Ahom Burial Mounds in Assam The Charaideo Maidams in Assam has just been selected as a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage Center by the Union Government. More on the news: From among the 52 locations across the nation seeking for  the World Heritage Site tag, The Prime Minister chose Maidams mound burial site of Assam.

Issues faced by Women in Sports 

Issues faced by Women in Sports  Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, head of the WFI (Wrestling Federation of India), has recently been accused of sexual harassment by some athletes. If WFI does not respond to the Sports Ministry's request for an explanation within 72 hours, the Ministry will move to take action against the Federation

Prison Reforms

Prison Reforms During the annual police meeting in New Delhi, Prime Minister proposed prison reforms. What were the Prime Minister's Speech's Main Highlights? He made a point of highlighting the value of the National Data Governance Framework for facilitating smooth data interchange between agencies. Additionally, de


Trademark A case of trademark infringement brought by the international fast food chain Subway against Suberb, a restaurant in Delhi, was recently dismissed by the Delhi High Court. What is trademark? It is an image, term, or phrase that is used to represent a company. A trademark's owner may assert "exclusive rights"

Chargesheet is not a “Public Document”: SC

Chargesheet is not a “Public Document”: SC Chargesheets are deemed to be private documents as declared by the Supreme Court bench. About the news: The Supreme Court ruled that the government is not required to post chargesheets on police or official websites in order to give the public unrestricted access to them. Acc


Search By Date

Post Feed

Newsletter Subscription
SMS Alerts