Monday, October 18, 2021

Clean India drive in October: Waste to wealth

 

“The earth, the air, the land, and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to hand over to them at least as it was handed over to us.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhiji always strived for a cleaner India. Aligning with this and to keep India safe and clean, the Government of India will be observing a month-long nationwide cleanliness drive in October.

From October 1 to 31, 2021, the Government will be launching the Clean India Drive to clean waste and to focus mainly on single-use plastic. The purpose of the drive is to promote “Clean India: Safe India”. On September 26, Union Sports Minister, Anurag Thakur while making the announcement said that cleanliness is of utmost importance and urged citizens to join the cleanliness drive in large numbers.

Waste to Wealth Model

Clean India Drive will be the largest cleanliness drive in the world which aims at collecting more than 75 lakh tonnes of waste, primarily plastic waste, from different parts of the country. The collected waste will then be processed in a ‘Waste to Wealth’ model.

The government has adopted new rules that provide for ways and means to minimize plastic waste generation, adoption of extended producer responsibility for collection of waste and sustainable plastic waste management, recycling and utilization of plastic waste in road construction, energy, and oil generation.

Waste is a natural by-product of the phenomena of life and growth of societies. It is unwanted or unusable material that is discarded after its primary use. For example, leftover fabrics after making a dress.

However, the waste to wealth model addresses the issue of waste generation at the grassroot level. According to the model, it is important to view ‘waste’ as a valuable ‘resource’ that can be converted into a variety of useful products, and help achieve sustainable development goals. For eg, conversion of waste plastic into liquid hydrocarbons/energy; or converting leftover vegetables, fruits peels, food into compost, etc.

The waste to wealth model is based on the concept of 5R: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover.

Swachh Bharat Mission: Urban 2.0

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched on October 2, 2014, with the aim to accelerate efforts to focus on sanitation and achieve universal sanitation coverage. The Mission has been promoting sanitation and clean practices among the citizens.

Under the mission, all villages, Gram Panchayats, Districts, States and Union Territories in India declared themselves “open-defecation free” (ODF) by October 2, 2019. Furthermore, over 100 million toilets have been constructed in rural India.

The Mission is presently in Phase II under which ODF Plus activities will reinforce ODF behaviours and focus on providing interventions for the safe management of solid and liquid waste in villages.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also launch Swachh Bharat Mission- Urban 2.0 in which ‘Swachhata App 2.0’ and ‘Swachh Survekshan 2022’ will be launched, on October 1, 2021.

Phasing out single-use plastics

The Clean India Drive is mainly focused on dealing with single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are thrown away after their first use and are non-biodegradable, which makes them more detrimental to the environment. They have an adverse impact on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. According to the United Nations, much of the plastics produced today are designed to be thrown away after first use.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his vision for India 2021 shared that our country must phase out the use of single-use plastics by 2022 to help the environment thrive better. The country is gearing up, making policies, and taking initiatives to achieve the target.

In order to do so, the government has notified Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, which prohibits identified single-use plastic items which have low utility and high littering potential by 2022.

The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of single-use plastic such as earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities will be prohibited with effect from July 1, 2022.

At the individual level, various ministries have also taken several steps to combat the issue of single-use plastics. For example, the Ministry of Railways has directed all its railway units to enforce a ban on single-use plastic material, with less than 50 microns thickness from October 2, 2019.

Furthermore, the Government has also revised the waste management rules to make them more effective by including rules on solid waste, plastic waste, e-waste, bio-medical and hazardous, and construction and demolition waste. Many States and UTs have also banned identified single-use plastic items.

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