Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed the nation to join hands for reducing the use of single-use plastics there has been variety of discussions on this issue. Going by the discussions in social media and opinion space in media, some are happy that the PM himself is advocating for the cause from the front and that it does make a difference while some skeptics say that it is all about talk and noise.
In our earlier article we explained how PM Modi’s plogging and taking up a broom are not just symbolism but have a larger impact in terms of behavioral economics. When it comes to reducing single-use plastics, is the PM being in the forefront resulting in some kind of action from various quarters? It is true that concerns about use of plastics, especially single-use plastics was there in the public discourse for quite sometime. Even the Modi administration had worked in the past to address this issue. But it is on August 15 this year that the Prime Minister in his address to the nation on the occasion of Independence Day urged the citizens to work towards reducing the use of single-use plastics in a mission mode.
Has this call made people and organizations put a collective effort on this front? Let’s see some of the recent instances.
Indian Railways seems to have intensified its focus on recycling the plastics waste. These are the headlines we came across after August 2019.
In fact, taking a cue from PM Modi’s clarion call in his Independence Day speech to reduce single use plastic in the country, back in August itself, Railways had publicised its resolution in which it initiated measures like,
- Ban on single use plastic material
- All railway vendors to avoid use of plastic carry bags
- Staff should reduce, reuse and refuse plastic products and to use inexpensive reusable bags to reduce plastic footprint
- IRCTC to implement return of plastic drinking waterbottles as part of Extended Producer Responsibility.
- Plastic Bottle crushing machines to be provided expeditiously.
Ministry of Road Transports and Highways is another ministry that has taken specific measure to use the plastics waste productively. As the ministry stated, “It is encouraging the use of waste plastic in highway construction, especially on National Highways within 50 km periphery of urban areas that have a population of 5 lakh or more. A stretch of road has recently been constructed using waste plastic on NH-48 near Dhaula Kuan. A portion of Delhi- Meerut expressway and Gurugram- Sohna road have also been planned for construction, using plastic waste”.
The government is also exploring the innovative and technological ways to make the plastics waste productive.
Indian Institute of Petroleum and GAIL have planned to roll out the technology that converts plastics waste into diesel once it succeeds in the pilot plants.
Corporate India also responded positively to PM Modi’s call. For example, the decision from Taj hotel chain to do away with plastic water bottles will make a significant impact. As this report of Business Standard notes,
“Large chains like the Marriott and Taj that are estimated to consume two million plastic bottles a year have taken a conscious decision to first eliminate PET bottles on their premises and then reduce the use of single-use plastic altogether, saying they are all for a sustainably environment-friendly tomorrow.”
Further, the efforts like the one from Toyota Kirloskar Motor help build the momentum against plastics waste.
Truly proud of the work done by the team to create a sustainable world and have a positive impact on the environment. Kudos team @Toyota_India. Keep it up! @PrakashJavdekar @amitabhk87 @RNTata2000 @anandmahindra https://t.co/NrEOpVElfM
— Vikram Kirloskar (@vikramkirloskar) October 3, 2019
So, these are some early trends that show that PM Modi’s call to tackle the menace of plastic waste has resulted in many forms of actions within the administration and outside. Sceptics may take a break.