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UGC asks universities, colleges to work on banning single-use plastics

The government has decided to prohibit the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of various plastic products by the end of 2022.apPremium
The government has decided to prohibit the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of various plastic products by the end of 2022.ap

The move comes ahead of this year’s COP26 meeting which begins in Glasgow on 31 October, where the UN, country representatives, and experts will attempt to build a consensus on mitigation, adaptation, and collaboration to tackle climate change

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NEW DELHI : The higher education regulator has asked universities and colleges to work on banning single-use plastics, ahead of a planned federal ban on these items in 2022.

The move comes ahead of this year’s COP26 meeting which begins in Glasgow on 31 October, where the UN, country representatives, and experts will attempt to build a consensus on mitigation, adaptation, and collaboration to tackle climate change.

“All the universities and affiliated colleges and institutes are requested to make the awareness programme impact fully in order to avoid use of single-use plastics (and) have maximum visibility…and share action report," the University Grants Commission (UGC) wrote.

The higher education regulator wrote that government has launched a 75-week-long campaign to celebrate the achievements of the country and its people. “Awareness programme to avoid the use of single-use plastics has been identified as one of the themes… with a view to gather momentum, scale, visibility, and outreach," the UGC wrote.

It also shared the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules 2021, outlining the items required to be banned as they have “low utility and high littering potential".

The Union government has decided to prohibit the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of various plastic products by the end of 2022. The permitted thickness of plastic carry bags, currently at 50 microns, has gone up to 75 microns from the end of September, and will rise further to 120 microns from the end of 2022.

The ban on products including plastic flags, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, single-use plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, wrapping films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners of less than 100 micron thickness will be implemented from July 2022.

“India has over 50,000 colleges and universities catering to over 37 million youth and they are changing their usage pattern and adopting an environment-friendly behaviour will go a long way. It will have a cascading impact on families and others in and around educational institutions. While the intention is fine, the implementation will be key here too," a government official said on condition of anonymity.

The official said single-use plastic ban is a talking point across countries and there is debate around its alternatives. The Glasgow meet over 13 days is expected to debate climate risk mitigation measures, responsibility of countries, and their individual and collective efforts to reduce emission, adopt clean energy and follow eco-friendly practices.

“Educational institutions may not be a great source of emission but play a crucial role in bringing the positive shift not just in youth but in establishments where they will go and work as future employees. The impact and need for climate risk mitigation has grown since 2015 Paris Agreement and more so after the pandemic outbreak in past 18 months," the official added.

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