India experiences worse-than-average plastic pollution with single-use plastic water bottles and containers finding their way into streets and important waterways.
To rein in this pollution, the Indian government announced from the capital of New Delhi on Friday that it will be imposing a ban on single-use plastics. The government decided to go ahead with the ban against the protests of food and consumer goods manufacturers. Things like single-use bottles, straws, cigarette packs, and many others will be banned.
While some companies will find it difficult to transition, India greatly needs to reduce its plastic pollution. Its growing economy has seen a rise in consumerism and a sharp increase in its already severe plastic problem.
India produces 14 million tonnes of plastic annually but doesn’t have an effective collection and recycling system. This leads to widespread littering and waste. This pollution clogs waterways and gets into oceans, affecting the lives of people and killing animals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said in a statement that it will ban straws, cutlery, earbuds, packaging films, plastic sticks for balloons, candy, and ice cream, and cigarette packets, but plastic bags are exempted for now. This is for convenience, but the government has encouraged manufacturers to increase the thickness of the bags to promote reuse.
Plastics manufacturers have said that the ban gives them no time to adjust and pivot to new products. India also needs to rehaul and improve its collection and recycling systems, but this new ban is a step in the right direction for a country with one of the worst plastic problems.