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Plastic Pollution in India

Plastic Pollution in India 2022

This report on Plastic Pollution in India 2022 is an effort to understand the plastic life-cycle and the plastic pollution challenge from the perspective of the different stakeholders who are integral to the landscape – from extraction of fossil fuels to end-of-life approaches such as co-incineration.

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Plastic Pollution in India Facts

The landscape of plastic waste pollution and management:

  • Global Scenario:
    • The global production of plastic increased by 79 per cent within a decade and a half (between 2000 and 2015).
    • Roughly 80 per cent of all the plastics ever produced continues to remain in the environment.
    • Total mass of plastics on our planet is now twice the mass of all living mammals.
    • If the plastic industry were a country, it would be the fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter on Earth.
  • Indian Scenario:
    • Plastic consumption: A whopping 18.45 million metric tonne (MMT) of plastic was consumed in India in the year 2018-19; 59 per cent of this went into packaging.
    • Multi-layered plastics: Which are non-recyclable at a commercial scale, made up 35 per cent of all plastic waste, and 40 per cent of all branded plastic waste.
  • Plastic Waste Recycling:



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Plastic Pollution Challenge in India

Various stakeholders in the plastic life-cycle and the plastic pollution challenge in India:

Petrochemical and Plastic Industry

  • The petrochemical sector is the feeding source of the plastic industry.
  • 67 per cent of the basic petrochemicals produced in India are used to manufacture polymers (plastics).
  • Average polymer production has increased by 160 per cent, and average polymer consumption has gone up by 196 per cent between 2005-06 and 2019-20.
  • Polypropylene (PP, used mostly for packaging applications) consumption increased by 276 per cent, highest for any polymer between 2005-06 and 2019-20.

Biodegradable and Compostable Plastic Industry

  • There is no inventory of companies in India manufacturing compostable plastics; neither is there a repository of industrial composting facilities.
  • The labeling mechanism for compostable and biodegradable plastics is very weak in the country and needs to be taken up on priority.

Producers, Brand Owners and Importers (PIBOs)

  • Brand owners are trying to greenwash their products through claims of ‘plastic neutrality’. Plastic neutrality only guarantees collection of waste and not it’s recycling.
  • The extended producer’s responsibility (EPR) policy, introduced for plastics in the Indian market, has serious limitations in clarity for implementation.


  • Consumers are often blamed for the plastic problem that the country faces. But, they do not have affordable non-plastic options to choose from while buying products.
  • Waste management practices adopted by consumers need to be upgraded and up-scaled.

Informal Sector

  • The informal sector is being imposed with the responsibility of collecting no recyclable plastic waste released in the market by FMCG companies.
  • As high as 42-86 per cent of the plastic waste flows through the informal sector to material recovery facilities (MRFs) operated by giant multinational corporations.
  • As a result of engaging the informal sector, corporations build up an image of being environmentally responsible and socially responsible.

Plastic Recyclers

  • The Indian government’s claim of the country recycling 60 per cent of its plastic waste is limited to specific types of polymers (plastics) like PET bottles.
  • The major plastic recyclers who have submitted data to the CPCB send 60-70 per cent of the waste collected by them for end-of-life disposal like co-incineration.

UPSC Mains Result 2022


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