Disposing of Disposable Plastic in Delhi
Author: Carol Warwick
India has announced a ban on all forms of disposable plastic across the capital Delhi. The ban came into effect 1 January 2017 and single-use items including plastic cups, bags, plates, and cutlery are now prohibited in the National Capital Territory area.
India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) introduced the ban in response to concerns over the health impacts of air and water pollution caused by the illegal burning of plastics and other rubbish. The NGT cited three major dumping sites in the region - Okhla, Gazipur and Bhalswa – as the most problematic. In a statement the NGT said “Each of these sites is a depiction of the mess that can be created for [the] environment and health of [the] people of Delhi.”
India banned the production of plastic bags in 2002 because many cows were ingesting plastics as they grazed on roadsides. Many nations have fully banned single-use lightweight plastic bags* including Morocco, Tanzania, and Bangladesh where bags regularly caused flooding by blocking drains during monsoons. Other countries have introduced levies which are passed onto consumers at the point of purchase, and in many cases (Hong Kong and Ireland) this has led to a dramatic decrease in the use of single-use plastic bags.
Closer to home South Australia, the ACT, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Fremantle WA have all banned lightweight plastic bags, with Queensland to follow in 2018.
But the new ban in India goes a step further, bringing Dehli in line with France, which last year announced it would ban disposable plastic plates, cups, and utensils by 2025.
Disposable plastic cutlery and crockery are most commonly made from oil, so rely heavily on carbon-intensive manufacturing processes and high resource consumption.
What About Recycling?
In Australia plastic plates and cutlery cannot be easily recycled. Plastic plates are flat so recycling machines will often mistakenly sort them as paper, causing contamination problems and waste. Plastic cutlery is the wrong shape to be correctly sorted by recycling machines, which are designed to separate containers like bottles and tubs. These items usually end up in landfill and take centuries to break down. However cups made from rigid plastic can be recycled as they act like containers in the recycling process.
In most areas of Australia plastic bags are the biggest problem in the recycling system. They get caught in the wheels and cogs of recycling facilities’ conveyor belts causing significant delays. (Many councils around Perth as well as Ballina and Lismore in NSW and Moreland in Victoria have different systems and can accept plastic bags.)
Soft plastics (which can be scrunched into a ball) such as single-use shopping bags and bags for bread, dry cleaning, cereal, rice, and pasta can be recycled through the REDcycle program. REDcycle collection points can be found at most metro Coles stores and some Woolworths/Safeway supermarkets. Since the program launched in 2012 it has diverted 150 million pieces of plastic from landfill.
Alternatives are now more widely available from companies producing single-use utensils and crockery from recycled paper, bamboo, and sugarcane, which are biodegradable. Last year Bakey’s, an Indian-based company, launched the world’s first edible cutlery. Made from sorghum, rice and wheat flower, Bakey’s cutlery comes in three flavours; plain, sweet or savoury, can be used with hot foods and liquids for 10 minutes, and is fully biodegradable.
The production and consumption of single-use items is an ongoing environmental problem, especially if there is no effective recycling program in place. With India and France taking the lead it will be interesting to see if others will follow.
- There are lots of ways to avoid using single-use plastic items:
- When catering for a group of people use reusable plates, cups and cutlery. If you don’t have enough to go around: ask your guests to bring their own; hire what you need; or, buy them from a charity shop and return them (washed) afterwards.
- If single-use items must be used choose those made from biodegradable materials such as bamboo or recycled cardboard.
- Visit RecyclingNearYou.com.au to find out which plastics can be recycled through local councils.
*The thickness (measured in microns) of bags which have been banned varies by nation.
Carol worked at Planet Ark in the PR and Media Team in 2017.
- Italy makes climate change education mandatory in schools »
- Bringing back the beauty of darkness »
- Trees can save costs and lives in record summer heat »
- The UK to end fracking for good following new study »
- NSW launches new innovation network for circular economy »
- The Sudbury story: From black to green »
- Dutch city to create thousands of jobs through circular economy initiatives »
- Young and old, to the streets, across the globe »
- Hawaiian seamount showing signs of recovery following government intervention »
- The island of the gods tackles plastic pollution »
- UK leading the developed world in emissions legislation »
- "Blue belt" expansion establishes UK as global leader in marine conservation »
- Philippine students graduating with a green thumb »
- Queensland's container deposit scheme exceeding expectations »
- The European capital undertaking a rapid waste transformation »
- Canberra to become first Australian jurisdiction powered by 100% renewable energy »
- Global plastic waste pact garners international support »
- Extinction Rebellion protests lead to big win in climate fight »
- Workers at tech giant demand climate action »
- San Francisco continues to challenge plastic pollution »
- West Papua becomes Indonesia's first conservation province »
- Carbon farming may hold key to bush regeneration »
- Students around the world hold first global School Strike 4 Climate »
- Western Australia commits to new waste strategy, better recycling targets »
- California reaches 2020 renewable energy goal ahead of schedule »
- Norway setting the standard for plastic bottle recycling »
- Mardi Gras to shine glitter free in 2019 »
- Worried about our buzzing friends? Buy and urge organic »
- Landmark ruling holds promise for addressing climate change »
- New Zealand supermarkets go nude and ditch plastic »
- Drinking your fill with the U.K. Refill campaign »
- Positive steps in climate change action in 2018 »
- The tiny archipelago blazing a trail towards sustainability »
- Deforestation in Indonesia on the decline »
- $10 billion pledged to protecting global marine environment »
- The island of the gods takes action on plastic waste »
- Education, Indonesia-Australia relationship key to addressing NT plastic pollution »
- Spain bids farewell to coal »
- The 'people's seat', headed by Attenborough, speaks up on climate change »
- Plastic waste for transport? »
- Australian students take to the streets in the name of their future »
- Bag ban yielding results within first three months »
- Pakistan hits billion trees goal ahead of schedule »
- International community approaching nature refuge goals »
- European parliament approves action on single-use plastics »
- Agreement reached to safeguard Arctic ecosystems »
- Recycle Street is easy street for City of Gold Coast recyclers »
- California commits to 100% clean energy by 2045 »
- Mountain gorilla numbers on the rise in Virunga »
- Ireland divests from fossil fuels in world first »
- Mexico City is turning its beltways into vertical gardens »
- 'World's most polluted river' finally getting cleaned up »
- Threatened koalas receive NSW rescue package »
- True colours - how simple bin changes cut waste at ANZ Stadium »
- Victorian Government pitches in for councils facing recycling shutdowns »
- Paper or plastic? »
- New South Wales Return and Earn Container Deposit Scheme hits 64 million returns »
- Vanuatu bans plastic bags and polystyrene containers »
- A global commitment to clean oceans »
- Vast new ocean reserve created off coast of Mexico »
- Planet Ark announced as Donation Partner for NSW Container Deposit Scheme »
- Beyond plastic pollution: solutions for a small planet »
- Victoria announces plastic bag ban »
- Southern states are bankrolling businesses in the War on Waste »
- Hobart City Council going further to phase out plastic »
- India's renewable energy target to create 300,000 jobs »
- Wood's all good for Tassie after state government announces wood encouragement policy »
- The Project's Bid to Ban the Bag »
- What if Rivers Could Sue? »
- Approval to Shred Massive Tyre Stockpile in Tasmania »
- Queensland Councils Join the Wood Encouragement Movement »
- Canada Announces First National Carbon Price »
- Launch of Positive Environment News »