India has recently passed legislation that will ban the use of disposable plastic products in Delhi and its surrounding territory. The new regulation is being driven by the need to tackle air pollution in the capital principally caused by the illegal mass burning of plastic and waste at three local rubbish dumps at Okhla, Gazipur and Bhalswa.
In an effort to reduce waste at these dumping sites, single-use plastic items such as cutlery, bags, cups have been prohibited by the National Green Tribunal. Plants that fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to 500,000 rupees per incident (£6,000) while individual vegetable vendors or slaughterhouses that illegally dump rubbish in public will pay 10,000 rupees (£120).
First and foremost, the new legislation aims to tackle the issue of chronic air pollution that is affecting cities across India. For instance, Delhi’s air is 36 times more toxic than London’s according to a study conducted by Greenpeace. Spurred by citizen complaints and activism, the Indian government is now taking steps to tackle this issue and has launched a nationwide ‘Clean India’ initiative. Second, the new rules also aim to cut down plastic waste which is becoming an increasingly important concern. The Times of India estimated that India responsible for 60% of the yearly plastics dumped into the world’s oceans.
The challenge is vast however and commentators have questioned how much of an impact the new rules will actually have. Are fines an effective way of promoting and encouraging sustainable behaviour and practices?