“ The changing lifestyle of humankind has caused concern as resources are depleting, degrading, and adverse toward harmony with nature. The rapid expansion of urban areas presents fundamental challenges but there are also opportunities to restore ecological functions to design more liveable, healthy, and resilient cities. Thus, it is imperative to bring transformative changes through policies, action, and sustainable lifestyles toward clean, green, and climate-resilient cities “.
Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (Established by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India), Lucknow organized day online International Workshop on “Plastic Waste Management” on the occasion of World Environment Day on 05 June 2023 in collaboration with Center for People & Environ (Bangladesh), Ecobricks Alliance (Indonesia), GFSRD (Malaysia), Global Centre for Rural-Urban Linkages Studies, CosmoMinds (India), NETRA Foundation, Guwahati, Assam, SSHP, Himachal Pradesh, RSNH, Rajasthan, and MPSS, West Bengal.
The program was inaugurated by Er. A. K. Gupta, Additional Director, Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies, Lucknow. In his welcome and inaugural address, he highlighted that the urban environment and sustainability of natural resources have been widely affected by the growing urban population and anthropogenic activities. The changing lifestyle of humankind has caused concern as resources are depleting, degrading, and adverse toward harmony with nature. The rapid expansion of urban areas presents fundamental challenges but there are also opportunities to restore ecological functions to design more liveable, healthy, and resilient cities. Thus, it is imperative to bring transformative changes through policies, action, and sustainable lifestyles toward clean, green, and climate-resilient cities. Before Dr. A. K. Singh, Head, of the Global Centre for Rural-Urban Linkages Studies, and Assistant Director of the Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies, Lucknow, while welcoming the Resource Persons and participants, reported that as per Global Plastics Outlook Report by OECD, there has been 6.1 million tones of plastic wastes which leaked into the aquatic environment and 1.7 million tones had flooded into oceans. It is estimated that about 30 million tons of plastic waste are in the seas and oceans. There has been a massive increase in the production of plastic products in India. In 2020, about 18.45 million tonnes of plastics were produced. Plastic wastes in India are estimated to be in tune with 3.47 million tonnes. About 50 percent of such waste is unutilized.
Ar. Mustapha Kamal Zulkarnain, Global Head, Projects and Policy, GFSRD, Malaysia, in his presentation on Plastic Waste and Tourism, highlighted 7 strategic approaches for managing plastic waste in the tourism sector. He said that there is a need to encourage tm businesses to adopt sustainable practices that minimize plastic waste generation. Promotion of eco-friendly accommodations that prioritize sustainability and offer guests a plastic-free experience is called for. Sustainable tourism practices play a vital role in minimizing plastic waste generation and promoting responsible behavior. Raising awareness among tourists about the impact of plastic waste on the environment and local communities is essential. Education and awareness are key to promoting responsible behavior and reducing plastic waste in the tourism industry. Community engagement is essential for addressing plastic waste in the tourism industry. Partnerships and collaboration are crucial for effectively addressing plastic waste in the tourism industry. Innovation and research play a crucial role in finding sustainable solutions to plastic waste in the tourism industry. Green certification programs and eco-labels play a vital role in promoting sustainable tourism practices and reducing plastic waste. Positive communication and marketing play a crucial role in promoting sustainable tourism practices and raising awareness about plastic waste reduction.
Muhammad Abdur Rahaman, Director, CPE, Bangladesh, in his lecture on Network And Tariff Model in Sustainable Urban Waste Management in Bangladesh, highlighted waste generation, waste dumping, waste collection and disposal, sustainable waste management practices, and waste services in ULBs of Bangladesh.
Dr. Salim Reza, Regional Programme Manager, INBAR, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in his session on Bamboo Resources as an Alternative to Plastic Products, highlighted the emerging potential of bamboo resources in African, South East Asian Countries and particularly in India for sustainable rural livelihoods, employment generation, reduction in carbon emissions, and promotion of SDGs. Bamboo products are the best alternatives for replacing the increasing use of plastic products. Bamboo is eco-friendly, sustainable, renewable, and green products. Thus, the government should encourage the growth and development of bamboo resources for poverty reduction, employment generation, and addressing the issues of climate change.
Ani Himawati, Principal, of Global Ecobricks Alliance, Indonesia, said the Global Ecobrick Alliance is an Earth Enterprise with the mission of accelerating local plastic transition. We maintain the technological and intellectual infrastructure of the global eco-brick movement. An eco brick is a plastic bottle packed with used plastic to create reusable building blocks and sequester plastic. Ecobricks are a regenerative solution to sequester plastic, prevent pollution and avoid CO2 emissions. An Ecobrick is a reusable building block made by packing clean and dry used plastic into a plastic bottle to a set density.
Dr. Abhishek Awasthi, Head of, the Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment, Maharaja Agrasen University, Solan, Himachal Pradesh in his session, highlighted the Indian perspective of plastic waste management. He said that on average, production of plastic globally crosses 150 Million tonnes per year. Its broad range of applications is in packaging films, wrapping materials, shopping and garbage bags, fluid containers, clothing, toys, household and industrial products, and building materials. It is estimated that approximately 70% of plastic packaging products are converted into plastic waste in a short span. Approximately 9.4 million TPA plastic waste is generated in the country, which amounts to 26,000 TP. Of this, about 60% is recycled, most of it by the informal sector. While the recycling rate in India is considerably higher than the global average of 20%, there is still over 9,400 tonnes of plastic waste which is either landfilled or ends up polluting streams or groundwater resources. Once the plastic is discarded after its utility is over, it is known as plastic waste. It is a fact that plastic waste never degrades, and remains on the landscape for several years. About 20% of solid municipal wastes are plastics in India. The total consumption of plastic in India is about 4 million tonnes and the waste generated is about 2 million tonnes. The use of plastics in India is 3kg per person per year. As India’s plastic demand reaches 20.89 million tonnes in 2021-22 and is projected to continue growing to 22 million tonnes by 2023, the responsibility lies on the industry to adopt circular economy principles, not only to minimize waste and pollution but also to open new opportunities for growth and innovation. As many as 4,953 registered units are engaged with plastic in 30 States/Union territories in India, a report by CPCB said. The report added 823 unregistered plastic manufacturing/recycling units in nine states/UTs. The informal sector handles 42-86 percent of waste, lacking basic disposal techniques. The informal sector diverts the majority of waste to landfills due to a lack of knowledge and technology-enabled machinery, and waste material collected by the informal sector is not channeled transparently. Material recovery facilities and recyclers in the waste management industry often receive contaminated waste that cannot be recovered and is eventually disposed of in landfills. The 2016 rules were revised to be known as the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018. Three major changes amongst others have been incorporated in the latter. Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2022, were issued because of the phasing out of certain single-use plastic products from July 1, 2022, and the mandate to increase the thickness of plastic carry bags.
Dr. Pranjal Phukan, CEO, CosmoMInds, India, highlighted that in recent years, there has been a growing focus on developing innovative plastic recycling technologies that cater to the needs of poor economies. Several trends have emerged to address the challenges faced by these regions. One trend is the rise of decentralized recycling systems, which involve setting up small-scale recycling facilities that can be operated by local communities. Another trend is the development of low-cost recycling techniques, such as pyrolysis and chemical recycling, which can efficiently convert plastic waste into valuable resources. Additionally, the adoption of mobile recycling units and community-based collection initiatives has improved plastic waste management in underserved areas. These advancements aim to promote sustainable practices and provide economic opportunities for disadvantaged communities while tackling the plastic pollution crisis. One trend is the development of low-cost recycling techniques, including mechanical recycling methods that utilize simple machinery and manual labor. Innovations such as mobile recycling units and community-based collection initiatives aim to bring recycling services closer to underserved areas. Additionally, the utilization of alternative feedstocks, such as agricultural waste, is gaining traction as a cost-effective approach. Collaborative efforts between governments, NGOs, and private enterprises are driving these trends, with a focus on empowering local communities, creating employment opportunities, and reducing plastic pollution in economically disadvantaged regions.
A vote of thanks was delivered by Dr. Jayanta Chowdhury, Founder, GFSRD, and Head, Deptt. of Rural Studies, Tripura University, Agartala, He narrated that the whole globe is celebrating the golden jubilee of World Environment Day. He said that there is vast scope for the replacement of plastic products provided that we adopt bamboo products. We also need to change the mindset of the community to adopt o friendly lifestyle and avoid the use of plastic products. The three R – reduce, recycle, and reduce are the basics in plastic waste management.
The Programme was jointly coordinated by Dr. A. K. Singh and Mr. Himanshu Chandra, Assistant Director of, the Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.