India to ban single-use plastics on board ships in Indian waters

Ban on potato chips bags, bottles, other single-use plastics on board from January 1

plastic waste Representative image | Shutterstock

From January 1, Indian ships will prohibit a large number of single-use plastic products, including ice cream containers, hot dish cups, microwave dishes and potato chips bags, from being carried on board.

The decision has been taken in the larger public interest by the Directorate General of Shipping, following an appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 to "take the first big step" towards freeing India of single-use plastics.

Not will only a large number of single-use plastics will be prohibited on board Indian ships but they will also be banned in foreign ships when in Indian waters.

The Directorate General of Shipping has come out with an order prohibiting a large number of single-use plastics in Indian ships and foreign ships in Indian waters from January 2, 2020.

The list of items includes bags, trays, containers, food packaging film, milk bottles, freezer bags, shampoo bottles, ice cream containers, bottles for water and other drinks, dispensing containers for cleaning fluid and biscuits trays.

Items prohibited also include hot drink cups, insulated food packaging, protective packaging for fragile items, microwave dishes, ice cream tubs, potato chips bags and bottle caps.

Besides, the Directorate has banned the use of single-use plastic cutlery, plates and cups, up to 10 litres of bottles for water and other drinks, garbage and shopping bags and dispensing containers for cleaning fluids which are less than 10 litres volume with immediate impact. 

It has directed authorities to "ensure during surveys, inspection and audit of Indian ships that single-use plastics are not found used/stored onboard any Indian ship" and added that in case of non-compliance and repeated offence it will be a case for detention.

It also said that foreign ships intending to enter Indian waters will have to declare single-use plastic items on-board and that no such items will be discharged at Indian ports.

Quoting international reports it said that the most-common finds during international coastal cleanups are, in order of magnitude—cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straw and stirrer, glass beverage bottles and other kinds of plastic bags.

It said single-use throw-away plastics contaminate soil, river and water-bodies, causing irreparable damage.

According to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), marine litter presents a huge problem in oceans with some scientists warning that by 2050, the quantity of plastics in the oceans will outweigh fishes.