The Government of India has announced a ban on the production, sale and use of a number of single-use plastic items from next July.

The Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry has tabled the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules 2021, which target items with ‘low utility and high littering potential’.

Single-use plastic products to be banned in India include plates, cups, glasses, cutlery and stirrers, as well as plastic or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) banners less than 100 microns thick.

The ban also covers earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, confectionery and ice-cream sticks and polystyrene for decoration.

In a statement, the Ministry said: “Pollution due to single-use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries.

“India is committed to taking action for mitigation of pollution caused by littered single-use plastics.

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“In the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019, India had piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic pollution, recognising the urgent need for the global community to focus on this very important issue.

“The adoption of this resolution at UNEA 4 was a significant step.”

Any single-use plastic packaging items not covered by the ban will be collected and managed via the extended producer responsibility of the producer, importer and brand owner (PIBO) under the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016.

The revised legislation will also increase the thickness of plastic carrier bags across India from 50 microns to 75 microns from next month. This will be further raised to 120 microns from the end of next December.

In April, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) in India reportedly directed the closure of 16 illegal plastic manufacturing units in New Delhi over the last two months.

DPCC teams had inspected 25 industrial units specialising in manufacturing plastic carrier bags in the Bawana and Narela industrial areas.

Nine of these had complied with manufacturing standards, while the remaining 16 units were found to have violated the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016.