A man on the Arabian Sea coast littered with plastic bags and other rubbish in Mumbai, India
Photo: Rafiq Maqbool/AP
Cities littered with plastic, clogged drains, littered rivers and dead animals: plastic waste is one of the most important sources of environmental pollution in India.
Now the country has decided to ban some single-use plastic products.
The measure is part of a plan to counteract the flood of plastic waste.
For this purpose, 19 plastic items were identified that are of little use but produce waste.
In the future, it will be forbidden to manufacture, import, store, distribute or sell these products.
These include plastic cups, straws or popsicle sticks.
Some single-use plastic bags will also be phased out and replaced with thicker bags.
Thousands of other plastic products, such as bottles or bags of chips, are unaffected by the ban.
However, the government has set targets for manufacturers to be responsible for recycling or disposing of these products after use.
Plastic waste as a source of environmental pollution
Plastics makers had previously appealed to the government to delay the ban, citing inflation and potential job losses.
At a press conference in New Delhi, Indian Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav emphasized that the ban had been in the planning for a year.
Plastic waste has become a significant source of pollution in India, the second most populous country in the world.
Rapid economic growth has fueled demand for goods that come with single-use plastic products like straws and single-use cutlery.
In India, which consumes around 14 million tons of plastic every year, there is no organized system for disposing of plastic waste.
According to the Indian Environment Agency, more than 4.1 million tons of plastic waste were generated in 2020.
Even when viewed globally, the majority of plastic waste is not recycled.
Instead, millions of tons end up in the world's oceans, affecting wildlife and ending up in drinking water.
Scientists are still trying to assess the risks posed by the tiny pieces of broken plastic, known as microplastics.