SHIMLA-24th May, 2024-The Chief Secretary, Prabodh Saxena, today here chaired the 4th review meeting of the State Level Special Task Force to discuss the management of the single-use plastic in the State.

He highlighted the severe environmental impact of plastic on the earth, air, and water, emphasizing its toxic composition and the significant pollution caused by its non-biodegradable nature. He pointed out that our focus on solid waste management, particularly plastic waste, underscores the need for environmentally friendly and scientifically sound disposal alternatives.

He stated that due to the hazards caused by polythene, the government banned the use, sale and manufacture of polythene and plastic carry bags made from non-biodegradable materials in the state. He said that stringent measures have also been taken over time and has prohibited stockists, traders, retailers and vendors from using non-biodegradable carry bags for any commodities within the state.

Shri Saxena said that various initiatives has been undertaken to collect plastic waste. The commitment to environmental protection is evident in the campaigns launched to enforce the ban on single-use plastics. He mentioned that with the involvement of key stakeholders such as the Environment, Science and Technology departments, the Pollution Control Board and Urban Local Bodies, the State has made significant progress in managing plastic waste, although much work remains to be done.

He directed all Deputy Commissioners to conduct review meetings every Saturday to assess the progress on single-use plastic reduction. He mentioned that under the Buy Back Policy, non-recyclable and single-use plastic waste at Rs. 75 per kilogram through registered rag pickers and individual households was being purchased in the state. Under this policy all types of packaging plastic waste, including items such as bread, cakes, biscuits, cookies, namkeen, kurkure, chips/wafers, candies, mattresses, cheese puffs, ice cream, ice cream candies, noodles, cereals/cornflakes, sugar-coated breakfast cereals, confectionery items, as well as cleaned and dry packaging and pouches/packets of liquids such as milk, oil, shampoo, hand wash, liquid soap, curd, buttermilk and juices were purchased.

Director of Environment, Science, and Technology, D.C. Rana, detailed about the comprehensive programme being implemented by the state government to safeguard the environment, including district-level initiatives. He said that approximately 1,300 tons of plastic have been collected under the Buy Back Policy and used for construction of roads by the Public Works Department (PWD) and in cement factories within the state. A target has been set for the PWD to build 200 kilometers of road using this plastic. Additionally, awareness activities about single-use plastic are being conducted throughout the state.

Principal Secretary Urban Development, Town and Country Planning Devesh Kumar, Secretary to the Hon'ble Chief Minister Rakesh Kanwar and heads of various departments were also present in the meeting.