The Shocking Reality of India’s Growing Plastic Consumption – Year-on-Year Increase at Over 10%!

You’ve heard the statistics: India is consuming more plastic than ever and at an alarming rate – with a year-on-year increase of over 10%. But what does this mean for the people and the environment of India?

In this article, we will expose the ugly truth of India’s growing plastic consumption and show how single-use plastics are threatening our planet and people. We’ll explore the reasons why India has seen such a surge in plastic consumption, examine the economic impact it has had on both individuals and communities and look closely at how this trend can be reversed.

We’ll then conclude with practical tips and suggestions that you can start practicing right away to help reduce your plastic waste as well as ways to support organizations working to make real change in India’s fight against plastic pollution.

India’s Plastic Consumption Crisis

It’s a shocking reality that year after year, plastic consumption in India of over 10%. We must act urgently to address this alarming trend.

In 2019, India’s plastic consumption was estimated to be 11 million tonnes. This figure is expected to rise to 18 million tonnes by 2030, a staggering increase of nearly 10 percent year-on-year. This means that India is now responsible for an estimated 15 percent of the world’s total plastic consumption. This increase in plastic consumption is due to several factors, including the growth of the population, the rising middle class, and the rise of consumerism in the country. 

The major sources of plastic pollution include single-use plastics, such as plastic bags and straws. These items are used daily, but often end up in waterways and landfills, leading to environmental degradation. 

In addition, the lack of proper waste management systems has resulted in improper disposal of plastics, leading to contamination and other health hazards. For example, in some parts of India, groundwater is contaminated with high levels of plastic particles. What’s more, landfills are overflowing with non-biodegradable waste that can last hundreds of years if not managed properly.

India must take steps towards reducing their plastic consumption and properly managing their waste if they want to avoid increased health risks posed by this crisis.

Causes Behind India’s Growing Plastic Explosion

With the explosion of plastic in India, it’s undeniable that we need to understand the causes behind this surge. After all, if we don’t identify and tackle the root causes, then any efforts to reduce plastic consumption are doomed to fail.

So what exactly is behind India’s growing plastic consumption?

Here are some of the major contributors:

  • Rapid urbanization: with millions moving from rural to urban areas in quick succession, It has seen an influx of plastic packaging and products.
  • Poor waste management systems: particularly in rural areas, there is a lack of systems in place to properly handle and dispose of plastic waste.
  • Low cost and convenience: with prices of single-use plastics being relatively low and ease of use being high (particularly with ready-to-eat food items), Indians have increasingly been opting for convenient single-use plastics over other alternatives.

How many plastic bags are used each year?

Every year, we use 5 trillion plastic bags! That’s 160,000 times per second! And over 700 per year for every person on the planet. We’re capable of doing better.

  • The majority of bags are simply discarded

Less than 1% of waste is recycled. They are typically made of Polyethylene, which takes centuries to degrade. Each ton of recycled plastic bags saves 11 barrels of oil in energy.

  • 12 minutes use, 1000 years of pollution

Plastic bags might take up to 1,000 years to break down. A plastic shopping bag is used for only 12 minutes on average.

Repercussions of Plastics in the Environment

Let’s face it—the ugly truth is that India’s plastic surge doesn’t only affect our country, but has negative repercussions on the environment around us. As plastic production in India continues to increase, there is an inevitable rise in plastic pollution that is not only contributing to land and ocean contamination but also the further destruction of our already fragile ecosystems.

  • Hundreds of species are threatened.

Plastics are eaten by seabirds, turtles, seals, sea lions, whales, and fish. The death of a sperm whale discovered in California (USA) in 2008 was caused by 22.2 kilos of plastic that the whale had eaten.

  • Plastic soup

In the ocean, plastic is broken down into tiny pieces. Fish consume these pieces, which cannot be digested. As a result, the plastic gathers and enters the food chain.

Plastic waste has also resulted in the formation of several “plastic soups” in the world’s oceans.

  • Environmental Pollution

Plastics do not decompose easily and can remain in the environment for hundreds of years, causing pollution of waterways, landfills, and oceans. Plastic waste accumulation can also release harmful chemicals into the environment, affecting both wildlife and human health.

  • Health Risks 

Plastics contain harmful chemicals that can leach into food and water supplies, causing cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental delays.

Policy in India

India has attempted to regulate the use of plastics in the past two decades with various policies, starting with the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. The rules were later replaced with the stronger Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016, which emphasized a complete ban on plastics below 50 microns, phased out the use of multi-layered packaging, and introduced extended producer responsibility (EPR).

 However, implementation of the rules was poor, and the government’s recent amendment to the rules has diluted the effect of the 2016 rules. The rule on explicit pricing of carry bags was removed, and the complete ban on “non-recyclable multilayered plastic” was substituted with a more ambiguous term. This amendment seems to dilute the government’s claim to shut down all small and illegal plastic-producing plants.

Apart from public awareness, the government and local authorities must also take responsibility for managing plastic waste. This includes the setting up of adequate waste management systems, working towards creating an efficient recycling infrastructure, and promoting the reuse of plastic.

Do we have solutions?

Waste-to-energy (WTE) plants are not an effective solution for India’s plastic waste problem, as they contribute to air pollution and require an increase in the plastic content of municipal waste. Bioplastics have been promoted as an alternative, but their effectiveness is still unproven, and their use currently accounts for only 2% of total plastic usage. Using other biodegradable materials, such as reused cotton or paper, is a viable option, but their efficacy is still being tested. 

India’s per capita consumption of plastic is still low, but it is expected to rise in the coming years. To tackle this problem, targeted investments in recycling and efforts to cut down on consumption are necessary. In addition, promoting the use of biodegradable bags and reusable products can significantly reduce plastic waste.

If we want to make a positive impact on the environment, we must take action and make changes in our daily lives. One of the easiest ways to do so is by using eco-friendly and sustainable products like biodegradable bags and reusable products. EcoPacks steps in, offering a range of affordable and sustainable options for conscious consumers who want to make a difference. Now is the time to act!