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What ban? Delhi 2nd only to Maharashtra in single-use plastic consumption

NEW DELHI: Single-use plastic products continue to be widely available in city markets in Delhi despite a nationwide ban. In a survey carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment from July to December 2022, citizens reported Delhi as having the second highest sighting of single-use plastic in circulation. Delhi (12.2%) ranked after Maharashtra (14.2%). Most of the products reported were unbranded.

In the survey, people were told to submit geo-tagged photos of banned single-use plastic items that they came across in their neighbourhood.

The survey was shared in CSE’s latest report of the State of India’s Environment, released on Thursday.

“Of the total complaints reported, 35.5% complaints were reported against carry bags, followed by straws (22.3%) and cutlery (18.4%),” the report said. The complaints were from across the country, indicating that the ban’s enforcement was poor everywhere, the report added.

The report stated that the Central Pollution Control Board launched a public grievance redress mobile app on April 2 last year.

Till November last year, the total volume of complaints was 5,071 from 124 cities.

New Delhi reported 634 complaints, followed by Lucknow (294) and Ghaziabad (215). “Of the total complaints filed, only 1,148 (22.6%) were redressed in the month,” the report said. Of the 634 complaints lodged in New Delhi, 377 were redressed. “The stagnancy in the redress rate... received by CPCB is concerning,” CSE added.

Siddharth Ghanshyam Singh, the programme manager for the municipal solid waste unit in CSE, said that markets in Delhi were flooded with banned single-use plastic items.

“Since the ban came into force, plastic straws in packaging of renowned brands have gone off the shelves. However, surveys by CSE show that banned items are still available and no action is taken against them. Awareness campaigns have been reduced,” he said.

Atin Biswas, the programme director for the municipal solid waste unit in CSE, said: “Most of the banned products, including plastic cutlery, are non-branded and manufactured in the informal sector. This sector has nothing to do with branding and only wants to make money. Since such units are not included in the government’s records, how can the authorities shut them down.”

Biswas added that data from several studies show that “65% of the total plastic waste is packaging material that is single-use plastic”. Municipal bodies and state pollution control boards or control committees have been entrusted with the task of implementing the ban, but they lack proper manpower, he added.

He said that the implementation of the ban would need a lot of public awareness and sensitisation so that people refuse to accept banned items when sold. Besides, people can report to the authorities as soon as banned items are found.

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