Single Use Plastic (SUP) Ban: Modi’s challenge is hard for Naveen to sup it!

Odisha 9th biggest plastic waste generator in country. The State has 12 manufacturing units but a single recycling facility. When Centre fears to utter 'ban' and, rather, to focus on collection & recycling, Odisha seems to be in a catch-22 situation

Bhubaneswar:  With a resolve to eliminate the single use plastic (disposable plastic) from the country’s landscape by 2022 (150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi), from Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) this year, the Centre will launch an extensive campaign focussing collection of single use plastics for massive recycling.

Will Odisha stand up to this mega challenge by Modi?

Sample this. Odisha figured among the top-10 plastic waste generators in the country in 2017-18.  With a waste generated to the tune of a massive 12,092.205 metric tonnes per year, the State is slotted the 9th biggest plastic waster generator in the country.

Significantly, when the State has 12 registered manufacturing units, it has only a single recycling plant.  The caveat here is the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has no data regarding any unregistered plastic manufacturing units in the State.

The import here is the SPCB didn’t rule out functioning of any plastic manufacturing units sans registration. It only said no such data is available at SPCB’s disposal.

Moreover, as per the amended Plastic Waste Management Rules – 2016, it has been mandated for all the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to submit annual reports to the SPCB. But from 114 ULBs in Odisha, only 25 have submitted so.

The role of ULBs in comprehensive plastic waste management is of prime importance as it is they who collect, segregate, store, transport and dispose the plastic waste.

These facts tell how the Modi’s SUP (single use plastic) challenge is too hot for the Naveen-led government to sup.

Odisha Government had imposed a complete ban on plastic carry bags since 2018. It had notified a penalty of Rs 5,000 for carrying, storing, transporting or selling such plastic items in the six city limits of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Puri.

Now, sample this reality check on ground. The plastic carry bags have defied the State government order with impunity. Plastic carry bags are readily available in all size, colour and classes (from humble vendors to big grocery shops). And the SPCB data clearly shows not a single individual has been penalised till date in the Capital city, leave aside any lesser known city counterparts.

The only big change discernible post imposition of ban: All big shopping malls and fashion stores have eliminated use of plastic packs. And no more plastic water pouches are available in municipal area limits of all such cities.

So, when even the Modi government is doubly cautious to use the word ‘ban’ on SUP from October 2 this year, it is only naive to expect so from the Naveen government, which has the tendency to buckle down under pressure.

In the given context, the Naveen government will be in a catch-22 situation. Neither it can impose penalty to stop SUP in Odisha, nor it has the capacity to recycle such a huge plastic waste (33 metric tonnes) generated every day in the State. So, will Odisha then have to live with the huge plastic burden beyond 2022 dateline?