After China, the world’s biggest plastic buyer, India to start banning imports of plastic rubbish!
"After China's announcement that it would no longer accept 'foreign garbage', environment secretary Michael Gove said the UK had to 'stop offshoring our dirt' and deal with its plastic waste at home. But at the time, India was mentioned as one destination for plastic rubbish as a 'short term' alternative destination to China."
Clearly that short-term solution has come to an end and now a new innovative way has to be thought of dealing with this menace. This news is coming at a time when the experts across the globe “repeatedly highlighted India” as a country with the untapped capacity to accept imported trash as India being one of the world’s top 10 plastic importers which trades mostly with China, Japan, Korea, and the U.S.
Theoretically, India banned importing plastic waste in 2015, but a legal loophole allowed agencies in “Special Economic Zones” to import plastic. So, naturally, companies set up shops in those zones, and plastic and paper imports began to rise. Until recently, on March 11, the government amended the ban to take effect August 31. India imposed the ban because it has enough of its own trash to deal with. The move is meant to "close the gap between waste generation and recycling capacity," and to help keep the country on track for its goal to phase out all single-use plastics by 2020. The country generates 9 million tons of plastic waste a year but recycles only about half of it where the remaining trash is tossed all across without any treatment whatsoever.
The global recycling industry along with giant recycling companies operating in India must be very unhappy with the decision as their business will get a beating. On the other hand, pollution is having a high toll on deaths in the country and it was a much needed step to control garbage imports.
The greater question is the future of trash. It has to go somewhere and something as to be done “You can screw up a lot of the global trade system just by stopping a few things — and the movement of trash is one of them,” says Daniel Hoornweg, “Plastic’s heavily embedded in our society.” The importing countries have seen massive upticks in their own plastic trash, they often lack the infrastructure for managing that waste, and have also contemplated implementing restrictions similar to China’s and now India's.
Talking of solutions of dealing with the same, sending it to local landfills is one way, incinerating it is another, but both options have downsides, such as producing toxic air and pollution that can lead to a host of health issues from itchy eyes to breathing problems. Exporting trash is becoming less desirable for importer countries which ultimately calls for trying to avoid using disposables on the first place.
Using bio-degradable and sustainable alternatives is a sustainable solution along with innovation in treatment of plastic content. Opting for reusable bottles and bags can reduce the amount of plastic trash produced every year. These are really simple things that you can try to do. People don’t really feel like they’re making a difference when they do that on their own but when millions of people start doing that, it will absolutely make a difference. Ponder.