India announced on Wednesday a plan to eliminate single-use plastics within three years.
Environment Ministry official Chintan Mishra said the “Clean India Mission” is an effort to “sensitize” the public against single-use plastics.
Most Indian states have some regulations on single-use plastics. The central government is asking all states to try to end their use by 2022.
“The rules for plastic and solid-waste management are already there. It is the implementation that must be improved, and public awareness,” said Vinod Kumar Jindal, a government official overseeing the project.
Mishra said the government would not impose a blanket nationwide ban. Thousands of small and medium-size factories that manufacture single-use plastics could shut down if there were a total ban.
Chitra Mukherjee, an environmentalist, said it is disappointing that the government didn’t decide on a national ban.
“Certain products such as plastic stirrers, cups, straws and sachets would be very easy to ban outright, because they don’t require alternatives and have no recyclable value,” said Mukherjee, policy director of the environmental research group Chintan.
India generates about 33 million pounds of plastic waste each day, and 60 percent of it is recycled. That’s roughly 24 pounds of waste per person per year, compared with 62 pounds globally, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.