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India witnessed 157 days of plastic overshoot in 2023, what does it mean?

On July 28, 2023, the world experienced its first Plastic Overshoot Day, marking a tipping point when the amount of plastic waste exceeds

By Ground Report
New Update
India witnessed 157 days of plastic overshoot in 2023, what does it mean?

On July 28, 2023, the world experienced its first Plastic Overshoot Day, marking a tipping point when the amount of plastic waste exceeds global waste management capacity, Swiss-based research consultancy Earth Action has reported. EA).

According to EA's 2023 Plastic Excess Day Report, an estimated 68,642,999 tons of additional plastic waste will end up in nature this year.

India's plastic pollution impact

In 2023, the world will witness 157 days of plastic overshoot. India, as a significant contributor, plays a pivotal role in this crisis. With a Mismanaged Waste Index (MWI) of 98.55%, the country is facing a high level of plastic waste mismanagement.

The expected mismanaged waste in 2023 is a staggering 7,300,752 tons of plastic. Despite having a relatively low annual per capita plastic consumption of 5.3 kg, the total plastic consumption in India amounts to 7,408,124 tons of plastic waste.

India also plays a role in plastic waste export, contributing 59,260 tons of plastic, which represents 0.8% of its total waste. On the other hand, the country imports 98,860 tons of plastic, accounting for 1.33% of its total.

The impact of plastic pollution is evident as the country releases 330,764 tons of microplastics into waterways. Moreover, waste mismanagement leads to 44,535 tons of pollution from chemical additives.

Primary microplastics from sources like tire abrasion, shedding textile fibers, and paint contribute to plastic pollution in India, not just improper disposal. The report projects that India will be responsible for releasing an average of 16.7 days of plastic overshoot into the environment in 2023.

What does it mean?

The term "plastic overdraft" refers to the point in a given year when the amount of plastic waste generated exceeds the capacity to properly manage and dispose of it.

In the case of India, which experienced a plastic glut of 157 days in 2023, it means that the country produced and accumulated a significant amount of plastic waste that exceeded its waste management capacity.

As a result, a substantial portion of this plastic waste can end up polluting the environment, leading to detrimental impacts on ecosystems, wildlife, and human health if not properly managed and controlled. Addressing excess plastic is essential to combat plastic pollution and its adverse effects on the planet.

12 countries, 52% mismanaged plastic

The report also revealed that 12 countries, including India, China, Brazil, Indonesia and the United States, are responsible for 52% of the world's mismanaged plastic waste. Based on current trends, plastics production is expected to triple by 2040, leading to a significant increase in global plastic pollution.

Short-lived plastics, such as plastic packaging and single-use plastics, account for approximately 37% of the total plastic traded annually. These categories present a higher risk of environmental leakage, contributing to the pollution crisis.

The graph highlights that around 43% of the 159 million tons of plastics produced globally in 2023, equivalent to 68.5 million tons, will cause pollution.

In terms of plastic consumption per person, Iceland ranked as the world's worst offender with an annual consumption of 128.9 kg per person, followed by India with 5.3 kg per person. The world average consumption of plastic per person per year is 20.9 kg.

Table of Countries with High Mismanaged Plastic Waste

Country Mismanaged Waste Index (MWI)
Mozambique 99.8%
Nigeria 99.44%
Kenya 98.9%
India 98.55%

Other countries in the top 12 contributors to mismanaged plastic waste include China, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Russia, Mexico, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, and Kazakhstan.

India's Plastic Overshoot Day: 98.55% mismanaged waste

India's Plastic Overshoot Day occurred on January 6, 2023, indicating that the amount of plastic waste exceeded the country's waste management capacity. EA's Mismanaged Waste Index (MWI) ranked India fourth, with 98.55% of the waste generated being mismanaged. In particular, three African countries, Mozambique, Nigeria and Kenya, have the highest rates of mismanaged waste.

The report suggests that India ought to invest in waste management policies like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and ought to phase out plastics that are not designed for circular use to combat plastic pollution. India previously proposed a global ban on single-use plastics in 2019, and in March 2022, the world agreed to draft a global treaty on plastic pollution by 2024.

The UN Plastic Treaty represents an essential opportunity to address plastic pollution worldwide, but it requires proper outreach, negotiation, ratification and implementation with great ambition. However, India refrained from submitting its written submission for the second round of negotiations held in Paris from May 29 to June 2, 2023.

The EA report stresses the urgent need for an ambitious treaty and urges all governments to endorse and ratify it to combat the growing plastic pollution crisis.

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