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What is single-use plastic (SUP)?

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 14, Oct 2021
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SUP is plastic produced and designed to be thrown away after being used only once. By that definition, a large number of products fall in the category. These include everything from a disposable straw to a disposable syringe.  

India has defined SUP as “a plastic commodity intended to be used once for the same purpose before being disposed of or recycled” in its Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.


The identification of single-use plastic items to be phased out was done on the basis of a report by an expert committee constituted by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (DCPC), under the direction of the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers on SUP. 

Phase-out schedule

Starting from September 30, 2021 through July 1, 2022, SUPs — mostly those manufactured by small and medium industries — will be phased out. 

Plastic packaging waste, inscrutably, is not listed for being phased out. It was proposed to be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the extended producer responsibility (EPR) of the producer, importer and brand owner (PIBO), according to the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. 


India used 18.45 million tonnes of plastic in the year 2018, according to industry estimates. The plastic produced in the same time period was 17 million tonnes. The global standard is that one per cent of all the plastic generated is biodegradable and can be composted.

This means, India needs to collect 170,000 tonnes of post-consumer compostable plastic and should have industrial composting units to deal with this stream of plastic waste.

What’s situation of SUP’s Globally?

Indian legislators consistently failed to keep its promises on phasing out SUPs since 2016, by diluting recycling rules with terms like “non-energy recoverable” and eventually coming up with half-baked solutions. (Energy recovery is a process of conversion of non-recyclable waste to heat / energy by burning / combustion.)

The European Union, on the other hand, came up with a clear vision in the form of EU plastics strategy which gave the industry a three-year window till 2021 to phase out 10 identified SUP items. 

Israel proposed to levy double purchase tax on SUP and disposable plastic ware. The move is expected to reduce usage by 41 per cent, according to a study by the country’s ministry of environmental protection.