India’s University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a directive to all universities and higher educational institutions in the country to prohibit the use of plastic products on their campuses.

The ban covers plastic cups, lunch packets, straws, bottles and bags.

The initiative follows an advisory issued by the Union Environment Ministry, which stated that India will host this year’s World Environment Day celebrations.

“Restrict single-use plastic water bottle and encourage the use of refillable bottles instead.”

Every year, the UN-led World Environment Day is celebrated on 05 June and this year’s theme is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

As part of the preparations for the event, the Environment Ministry has formed 19 teams to clean beaches, riverfronts and lakes.

UGC said in a letter to all vice-chancellors: “Ban takeaway coffee cups, lunch wrapped in disposable plastic packaging, plastic bags, disposable food service cups, plates, containers made in polystyrene foam and plastic straws.

“Restrict single-use plastic water bottle and encourage the use of refillable bottles instead.”

The commission has also asked varsities to conduct networking activities on mass awareness on disposal of plastic and cleanliness drives under the Swachh Bharat Mission in municipalities.

“Hosting this prestigious event is a step towards our commitment to undertake global leadership on addressing all forms of pollution, reducing emissions and investing in sustainable development efforts.

“This is an opportunity for collective efforts to reduce the use of plastic and the HRD Ministry has desired that the students be encouraged to refuse, reduce, and re-use plastic product in their daily uses.” The letter said.

Educational institutions have also been instructed to encourage students to refuse, reduce, and reuse plastic products in their daily uses.