Can India Manage its Plastic Waste?

Can India manage its Plastic waste?

Plastics are being used in a wide variety of sectors, including automotive, manufacturing, electronics, universal health care, and textiles, and is among the key drivers of growth. Various social programs, such as Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, would further enable the progress to be fueled.

Dealing With Plastic Waste

The academic and policy community is still looking for new ways to address the issues related to plastic waste. The following are some of the current options:

  • Development of bio-based and biodegradable plastics that use starch, cellulose, and polylactic acid as raw materials for short-term use items is one of the sustainable solutions that could be identified to deal with waste plastic.
  • Recycling of plastics is considered the next feasible and technically viable option to tackle plastic waste. A second supply chain of raw materials is created using a myriad of technologies. As per the waste hierarchy, recovery of secondary raw materials by recycling takes precedence over reuse.
  • Another promising use of plastic is to generate fuel from waste plastics. Fossil fuels are used to meet the majority of today's energy needs. Switching waste plastics to fuel is advantageous because it not only allows waste plastic to be discarded but also enables the creation of a fossil fuel substitute.
  • In cement kilns, non-recyclable plastic waste is used in the co-processing of waste plastics. This relates to the use of wastes in manufacturing processes to retrieve energy and material form.
  • Plastic waste is also mixed with bitumen for road construction. For the benefits it provides, the procedure of laying roads using this technique is quite well known

Plastic and Its Problems in India

Problems related to plastic waste constitute the following:

  1. Implementation of laws: Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWR), 2011, was enacted together under Environment Protection Act, 1986, to tackle the increasing rate of plastic waste disposal and focus on ensuring scientific management. The rules defined a system under which the urban local body was given responsibility for plastic waste management and a state-level monitoring committee was introduced. The Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, which were even more detailed and aimed to better solve the menace of plastic waste, replaced the 2011 rules. Although the regulations were implemented to reduce the plastic threat, some problems persist.
  2. Unaddressed issue of EPR: Government and industry must collaborate to develop successful and long-term EPR implementation models. The EPR concept, which was implemented by the 2016 rules, was novel, but it appears to lack specifics. The EPR for plastic waste management will need to be as detailed as the ‘Implementation Guidelines for E-waste. A real-time assessment and state-by-state mapping of manufacturers, plastic demand, and supply is needed to set practical and reliable EPR targets.
  3. Managing plastic waste sustainably: As India inches closer to a circular economy, it would have to transition to better waste management systems, with a stronger emphasis on information, education, and communication (IEC) among its citizen on matters such as plastic waste management.
  4. Littering of plastic waste: In India, particularly in urban areas, plastic waste, especially carry bags, is a significant environmental and public health concerns. Plastic bags of all sizes and thicknesses can be found littering India's cityscapes due to overuse. They play a major hand in clogging drains, gutters, and rainwater vents, causing a flood-like situation even in event of sparse rains.

Solutions As To Effectively Managing Plastic Waste

  • Invest in retrieving value-added products from plastic waste:

a)     Recycled products

b)     Bio-based products

c)      Pyrolysis

d)     Gasification

e)     Plastic waste in laying road

f)       Plastic and its Co-processing

Business Models For Managing Plastic Waste in India

  • Production of bio-plastic, key strategies to be implemented are as follows:

a)     Before interfering with the food chain, there should be an abundant supply of raw material—that is, natural biopolymers like starch, cellulose, and so on. This necessitates increased crop yields to ensure the bio-plastics industry's long-term viability.

b)     Public awareness, as well as government funding in the form of incentives and tax incentives will aid in the promotion of biodegradable/bio-based plastics' use and market.


Plastic consumption is steadily rising as a result of urbanization and rising global mandate. Despite the fact that rising rates of plastic production and plastic waste management process is good for Indian companies and the economy, unscientific waste management activities are having a negative impact on the environment. This necessitates effective planning, the adoption of the "build for environment" concept and improved end-user implementation.

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