CURRENT AFFAIRS – 22/03/2024

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 22/03/2024

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 22/03/2024

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 22/03/2024

Water, an instrument to build world peace

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : The Hindu

World Water Day, established by the United Nations in 1993, aims to raise awareness about the importance of freshwater resources globally.

  • Each year, a specific theme is chosen to highlight various aspects of water management and sustainability.
  • This year’s theme, “Water for Peace,” underscores the critical role of water in fostering peaceful relations among nations and communities.

Key Highlights

  • Global Water Crisis
    • The world is grappling with a severe water crisis, stemming from various factors such as rapid urbanization, industrialization, unsustainable agricultural practices, and climate change.
    • Erratic rainfall patterns, water overuse, and inefficient water management exacerbate the problem, leading to both physical and economic water scarcity.
    • The World Resources Institute identifies 17 countries facing “extremely high” levels of water stress, posing risks of conflict and unrest.
  • Water Challenges in India
    • India is not immune to these challenges, with water availability already categorized as water-stressed.
    • Projections indicate a further decline in availability by 2025 and 2050.
    • The country heavily relies on water for agriculture, municipal, and industrial purposes, with significant withdrawals from groundwater sources.
    • Groundwater depletion is a pressing issue, particularly in states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Haryana, where consumption surpasses availability, raising alarms about sustainability.
    • Regional Disparities and Depletion
      • Disparities exist across different states in India concerning groundwater consumption and availability.
      • While some regions face alarming ratios of consumption to availability, others exhibit relatively lower stress levels.
      • Perennial rivers and streams are drying up, with intermittent flows or complete depletion observed in various areas.
      • Post-April and May, water scarcity worsens, affecting drinking water availability and other essential uses.
      • Even hilly areas experience dwindling water sources, with springs drying up.
    • Challenges with Water Infrastructure
      • India’s water infrastructure faces challenges such as siltation of reservoirs, water bodies, and wetlands due to inadequate catchment treatment, poor design, and maintenance.
      • This results in reduced storage capacity and inefficiency, hindering effective water resource management.
    • Increasing Tubewell Density and Groundwater Discharge
      • In many areas, the density of tubewells and groundwater discharge has risen significantly, surpassing recharge rates.
      • This imbalance between discharge and recharge aggravates groundwater depletion.
      • Furthermore, the discharge of sewage and greywater into water bodies and rivers contributes to the deterioration of water quality.
      • The lack of effective surface and groundwater management exacerbates these issues.
    • Importance of Rainfed Agriculture
      • Rainfed regions in India, covering over 48% of the land area, contribute nearly 45% of the gross agricultural product.
      • This underscores the significance of rainfed agriculture in India’s food grain production.
    • Role of Rainwater Harvesting in Water Management
      • Enhancing water availability, both in terms of quantity and quality, is crucial not only as a fundamental human right but also as a means of peace-building and improving overall quality of life.
      • Sustainable agricultural production, water security, and environmental integrity are becoming increasingly important.
      • Rainwater harvesting, both in-situ and ex-situ, including rooftop rainwater harvesting, plays a vital role in augmenting water resources, particularly in combating water scarcity and drought, and aiding irrigation.
      • Government Initiatives and Programs
        • The Indian government has launched various initiatives such as “per drop more crop,” “Gaonkapanigaonmein,” “Khetkapanikhetmein,” and “HarMedh per ped” under programs like the Pradhan MantriKrishiSinchayeeYojana (PMKSY), watershed management, Mission AmritSarovar, and Jal Shakti Abhiyan.
        • These initiatives emphasize water conservation, rainwater harvesting, rejuvenation of water bodies, recharge of borewells, watershed development, and intensive afforestation.
      • Need for Comprehensive Water Management Protocols
        • To address water management challenges effectively, there is a crucial need to develop protocols for the revival of ponds, water bodies, and wetlands.
        • This includes assessing the condition of each water body, its water availability, quality, and the ecosystem services it supports.
        • Additionally, creating and reviving water bodies in every village, considering catchment-storage-command areas, is essential for sustainable water resource management and agricultural productivity.
        • Monitoring and Reclamation for Water Quality and Quantity
          • Efforts must be made to monitor groundwater tables and reclaim the water quality of groundwater, rivers, and water bodies to ensure sustainable water resources.
          • This includes implementing measures to assess and manage groundwater levels and improve the quality of surface water sources.
        • Pricing and Circular Water Economy
          • Implementing pricing mechanisms for water use and promoting a circular water economy can incentivize efficient water usage and recycling.
          • By valuing water appropriately, wasteful consumption can be reduced, and sustainable water management practices can be encouraged.
        • Efficient Irrigation Techniques and Integrated Water Resource Management
          • Adopting efficient irrigation techniques such as micro-irrigation systems and IoT-based automation can optimize water usage in agriculture.
          • Integrated water resource management approaches are essential for holistic and sustainable management of water resources, ensuring their long-term availability and quality.
        • Community Awareness and Participation
          • Fostering community awareness and participation through awareness campaigns and educational initiatives is crucial for promoting water conservation and responsible water usage.
          • Engaging local communities in water management decisions fosters ownership and sustainability of water resources.
        • Inclusive Water Management
          • Building resilience against climate change and addressing the water needs of a growing population require an integrated and inclusive approach to water management.
          • This includes strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on water resources and ensuring equitable access to water for all segments of society.
          • Integrating research, industry, and academia to implement innovative technologies is essential for addressing water challenges effectively.
          • Collaboration across sectors can drive the development and deployment of new solutions for water conservation, reuse, and allocation.

About World Water Day

  • World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance day held on 22 March to highlight the importance of fresh water and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
  • Each year, World Water Day focuses on themes relevant to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets.
  • World Water Day also sheds light on the inequality of access to WASH services and emphasizes the human right to water and sanitation.
  • The history of World Water Day dates back to 1993 when it was first observed following a proposal in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

What is Sustainable Development Goal 6?

  • Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) is a United Nations initiative that focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  • It is part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly to succeed the former Millennium Development Goals.
  • The main objective of SDG 6 is to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene for all by 2030.
  • This goal includes targets such as improving water quality, increasing water-use efficiency, implementing integrated water resources management, and protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems.

What is Agenda 21?

  • Agenda 21 is a non-binding action plan of the United Nations that focuses on sustainable development.
  • This initiative serves as an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments worldwide, with the aim of achieving global sustainable development.
  • Agenda 21 is structured into four main sections:
    • Social and Economic Dimensions: Targets combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, promoting health, achieving sustainable population growth, and sustainable settlement decision-making.
    • Conservation and Management of Resources for Development: Includes atmospheric protection, combating deforestation, protecting fragile environments, conserving biodiversity, controlling pollution, managing biotechnology, and radioactive wastes.
    • Strengthening the Role of Major Groups: Focuses on the roles of children, youth, women, NGOs, local authorities, business, industry, workers, indigenous peoples, communities, and farmers.
    • Means of Implementation: Involves science, technology transfer, education, international institutions, and financial mechanisms.
  • Agenda 21 was adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, with the goal of achieving global sustainable development by the 21st century.
  • It emphasizes the importance of local governments creating their own local Agenda 21 plans to contribute to the overall objectives of sustainable development.

Navigating the global waterscape, its challenges

(General Studies- Paper II0

Source : The Hindu

Approximately two billion people worldwide still lack access to clean water, and the demand for water continues to rise.

  • This scarcity not only threatens individual human needs but also poses a risk to collective prosperity and peace.
  • Addressing this challenge is crucial for ensuring sustainable development and global stability.

Key Highlights

  • World Water Day 2024: Theme and Significance
    • March 22, 2024, marks the 31st World Water Day, with the theme “Leveraging water for peace.”
    • This annual event highlights the importance of water management in promoting peace and prosperity worldwide.
    • The United Nations World Water Development Report, titled “Water for Prosperity and Peace,” emphasizes the critical role of water in achieving sustainable development goals.
  • The Treaty of Mesilim: A Landmark for Peace
    • Throughout history, water has been a pivotal resource for the development of civilizations, including those around the Indus, Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates rivers.
    • However, conflicts over water resources have also arisen in these civilizations, such as the well-documented tensions between the Mesopotamian cities of Lagash and Umma.
    • This historical conflict, one of the oldest known wars, centered around fertile land and water resources.
    • Despite the conflicts over water resources, historical episodes like the tensions between Lagash and Umma also led to significant milestones in peace-building.
    • The Treaty of Mesilim, considered the world’s first peace treaty, emerged from this conflict and is recognized as one of humanity’s oldest legal documents.
    • This treaty underscores the potential for water to serve as a catalyst for peace and cooperation among societies.
  • Climate Crisis and Water Insecurity
    • The world is currently facing numerous meteorological extremes, including intense heatwaves and turbulent floods, exacerbating concerns regarding the climate crisis and its impact on water insecurity.
    • In India, the erratic nature of the monsoon poses significant uncertainties for agriculture, which forms the backbone of the country’s $3 trillion economy.
    • Given the escalating pressures linked to climate change, there is a pressing need for enhanced cooperation in water-sharing arrangements and the adoption of universal principles for International Water Law.
    • By regulating the use of shared water resources and promoting sustainable practices, the world can advance better water diplomacy, utilizing water as a catalyst for peace.
  • Importance of Collaborative Governance
    • The shared understanding that water is a vital yet finite resource underscores the importance of collaborative governance to ensure effective and equitable water allocation among nations.
    • Such governance frameworks contribute to regional stability and peace, recognizing the intricate interplay between water, climate, and international relations.
    • Effective water diplomacy demands inclusive approaches that acknowledge the contributions of indigenous and local communities, who often possess extensive cross-border networks.
    • Additionally, involving civil society and academic networks can facilitate political processes aimed at preventing, mitigating, and resolving water-related disputes, thus fostering greater cooperation and understanding.
  • Challenges in Water Quality Data and Rural Accessibility
    • The 2024 report highlights a significant shortage of water quality data globally, particularly noting a prominent urban-rural divide.
    • Alarmingly, it reveals that “four out of five people lacking at least basic drinking water services live in rural areas.”
    • Addressing this disparity is essential for ensuring universal access to safe and clean drinking water, underscoring the importance of targeted interventions in rural communities.
  • Water Dependency in Rural India
    • In rural India, where agriculture serves as the primary livelihood for a significant portion of the population, approximately 70% rely on water for household activities.
    • This reliance underscores the critical importance of water in sustaining rural livelihoods and meeting basic human needs.
    • It’s noteworthy that agriculture in India consumes a substantial amount of freshwater, accounting for 70% of the total freshwater use globally.
    • This emphasizes the significant role of water in agricultural practices and its impact on rural communities.
    • Investments in improving water accessibility in rural areas hold immense potential for transforming livelihoods and communities.
    • Such investments not only address basic human needs but also yield positive outcomes in health, education, and employment, contributing to overall socio-economic development and dignity for rural populations.
  • Utilizing Technology for Water Conservation
    • In the agricultural sector, the adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) presents opportunities for efficient water management.
    • AI technology enables precision agriculture practices, including the optimization of water usage, reduction of crop and food loss, minimization of chemical and fertilizer usage, and overall conservation of water resources.
    • These practices demonstrate that productive and sustainable agricultural outputs can be achieved through technological innovation.
  • Significance of Transboundary Waters
    • A substantial portion of the world’s freshwater resources is found in transboundary waters, including those in India.
    • India, with its vast landmass, boasts a network of long rivers shared with neighboring countries.
    • However, water pollution in South Asia, particularly in rivers like the Meghna, Brahmaputra, Ganga, and Indus, has worsened considerably in recent years, as highlighted in the 2024 report.
    • Need for Cross-Border Water Governance
      • Addressing water pollution and managing shared water resources necessitates sophisticated cross-border water governance mechanisms.
      • Effective and equitable water allocation among nations sharing water resources is essential to mitigate conflicts and ensure sustainable water management.
      • Out of UNESCO’s member-states, 153 countries share transboundary waters, collectively accounting for 60% of the world’s freshwater flows.
      • However, only 24 of these countries have achieved a 100% cooperation agreement on shared waters, indicating the need for enhanced efforts in transboundary water cooperation.
    • Water Scarcity and Peace
      • Water scarcity poses a significant threat to collective well-being and peace.
      • Effective management of freshwater resources is crucial for achieving the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
      • Transboundary cooperation in sustainable water management can yield benefits across various sectors, including health, food and energy security, disaster risk reduction, education, improved living standards, employment, economic development, and ecosystem services.

Nuclear energy: fixing the finance

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Hindu

On March 21, Brussels hosted the inaugural Nuclear Energy Summit, co-chaired by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

  • The summit brought together several world leaders to emphasize the role of nuclear energy in addressing climate change.

Key Highlights

  • Global Recognition of Nuclear Energy’s Role
    • The initiative for the Nuclear Energy Summit stemmed from the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai in December 2023.
    • At COP28, 22 world leaders signed a declaration acknowledging the indispensable role of nuclear energy in meeting climate goals.
    • The declaration underscored the need to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050 as part of a multilateral approach to decarbonization.
  • Advantages of Nuclear Energy
    • Nuclear power is highlighted for its low carbon emissions compared to other renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal.
    • Moreover, nuclear power offers the advantage of supplying uninterrupted energy regardless of geographical constraints, making it a vital component of the renewable energy mix.
    • Additionally, nuclear power plants boast lower operating costs, a smaller land footprint, and longer life cycles compared to other renewables.
  • Financing Nuclear Energy
    • The large-scale adoption of nuclear power as a base load energy source relies on advancements in technology and financing.
    • Recent technological developments, including Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and extended fuel cycles, show promise in mitigating nuclear-related risks and reducing carbon emissions.
    • However, despite these advancements, Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and private investors have been reluctant to finance nuclear projects.
      • Private investors have also shown hesitancy in investing in the nuclear industry.
      • There is a pressing need to reassess nuclear financing policies to attract private capital and explore blended finance models.
      • Such reassessments are crucial to unlock the potential of nuclear energy in contributing to global decarbonization efforts.
    • Success of Cooperative Funding Models
      • Several countries, including France, South Korea, Russia, and the U.K., have successfully implemented cooperative funding models for nuclear energy projects.
      • In Finland, the ‘Mankala’ cooperative finance model has been utilized since the 1970s, where multiple private companies jointly own and finance energy producers, sharing the costs of building and operating plants.
    • Global Nuclear Energy Landscape
      • Currently, there are 440 nuclear reactors worldwide, accounting for a quarter of the world’s low-carbon energy.
      • The number of reactors is increasing, with 60 reactors under construction and 110 in the planning stage, particularly in Asia, notably China.
      • China aims to significantly increase its nuclear energy production, targeting 10% of electricity generation from nuclear energy by 2035 and 18% by 2060.
      • Challenges in Nuclear Industry
        • Despite growth in the nuclear industry, challenges persist.
        • Companies like NuScale Power, Westinghouse, and Areva have faced bankruptcy and project terminations due to rising costs and overruns.
        • Factors such as stigma, weaponization risk, radiation concerns, regulation, high upfront costs, and project delays hinder the wider adoption of nuclear energy.
      • Nuclear Energy in India
        • In India, nuclear power plants like the one in Tarapur offer reliable energy at competitive rates compared to solar and coal-fired plants.
        • However, nuclear energy accounts for only 1.6% of India’s renewable energy mix due to various concerns including stigma, safety risks, and high costs.
        • India’s nuclear industry is undergoing liberalization, with plans for significant growth.
        • The government has invited $26 billion in private investments, aiming to triple nuclear capacity by 2031-2032.

About the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28)

  • The UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28, is a crucial international event that took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12, 2023.
  • The conference aimed to bring countries together to coordinate global climate action and work towards achieving the goals and ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
  • The overarching objective of COP28 was to keep the target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C within reach by driving progress in climate action and delivering realistic solutions.
  • COP28 featured two main zones:
    • the Blue Zone and the Green Zone.
    • The Blue Zone, managed by the UNFCCC, hosted formal negotiations among accredited parties, observer delegates, media, and world leaders.
      • It facilitated discussions on climate policies, emissions reduction strategies, and other official side events.
    • On the other hand, the Green Zone, managed by the COP28 UAE Presidency, provided a platform for non-accredited delegates such as youth groups, civil society organizations, the private sector, and indigenous groups to engage in dialogue and raise awareness about climate action.
      • The Green Zone focused on showcasing innovative climate action technologies, entrepreneurship, and solutions for climate change mitigation.
    • COP28 emphasized four key areas of focus:
      • Transitioning to Clean Energy: Accelerating the energy transition to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
      • Centering Nature, People, Lives& Livelihoods: Placing nature and vulnerable communities at the core of climate action.
      • Delivering on Finance: Ensuring affordable and accessible climate finance for developing countries.
      • Mobilizing Inclusivity: Promoting inclusivity in decision-making processes and implementation of climate solutions in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
    • Note: The COP, which stands for the Conference of the Parties, is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Panel to study scope of altering power lines in bustard habitat

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Hindu

The Supreme Court, on March 21, established an expert committee to address the critical issue of conserving the endangered Great Indian Bustard bird population while simultaneously adhering to the nation’s commitments to promoting renewable energy sources.

Key Highlights

  • Background: Threats to Great Indian Bustard
    • The Great Indian Bustard, a large-winged bird, faces the imminent threat of extinction primarily due to frequent collisions with high-powered power cables near its core habitats in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
    • Judicial Intervention
      • A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, acknowledged the need for a nuanced approach and recognized the necessity to reassess the blanket directive issued by the apex court in April 2019, which mandated the undergrounding of high and low voltage power cables.
      • The Supreme Court appointed a diverse panel of experts to address the complex issues surrounding the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard and the promotion of renewable energy.
    • Scope and Responsibilities of the Committee
      • The expert committee’s primary objective is to evaluate the scope, feasibility, and impact of both underground and overhead electric lines within priority areas identified for the protection of the Great Indian Bustard in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
      • Additionally, the committee will explore alternative solutions to strike a balance between sustainable development goals and bird conservation efforts.
    • Recommendations and Reporting Deadline
      • The committee is empowered to recommend additional measures for identifying priority areas and propose strategies to mitigate threats to the Great Indian Bustard population.
      • It is mandated to submit its comprehensive report to the Supreme Court by July 31, detailing its findings and recommendations for effective conservation measures.

About the Great Indian Bustard             


  • The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotisnigriceps) is a large ground bird native to the Indian subcontinent, known for its distinctive appearance and critical endangerment.
  • Physical Characteristics:
    • The Great Indian Bustard is a tall bird with long legs and a long neck, standing up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) tall.
    • Males and females are roughly the same size, weighing around 15 to 18 kg.
    • Males have a black crown on the forehead, contrasting with a pale neck and head, while females have a smaller black crown and a discontinuous or absent black breast band.
    • They have a wingspan of 210-250 cm and are marked with black, brown, and grey on their wings.
  • Habitat and Distribution:
    • Historically, the Great Indian Bustard was distributed across Western India and parts of Pakistan, with its stronghold in regions like the Thar desert and the Deccan plateau.
    • However, today, its population is mostly confined to Rajasthan and Gujarat, with smaller populations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
    • They prefer flat open landscapes with minimal visual obstruction and disturbance, adapting well to grasslands.
  • Conservation Status:
    • The Great Indian Bustard is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with only about 200 individuals remaining worldwide.
    • The Great Indian Bustard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
    • The species faces numerous threats, including hunting, poaching, collisions with power lines, habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and infrastructural development, and predation by free-ranging dogs and other animals.
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • Conservation initiatives like “Project Bustard” have been launched in India to protect the Great Indian Bustard and its habitat.
    • Efforts include raising awareness, implementing conservation programs, and establishing breeding facilities to increase the population of this critically endangered species.

Ministry of Environment tightens rules on bioplastics

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Hindu

The Environment Ministry has implemented stricter regulations for manufacturers of disposable plastic ware, particularly concerning the labeling of products as ‘biodegradable’.

  • Under the new rules, such products must not leave any microplastics behind, aiming to address the pervasive issue of plastic waste pollution.

Key Highlights

  • Biodegradable vs. Compostable Plastics
    • India faces a significant challenge regarding plastic waste pollution, with biodegradable and compostable plastics being touted as potential solutions.
    • Biodegradable plastics undergo treatment before distribution and are expected to decompose naturally over time.
    • However, there are currently no standardized tests to determine the complete degradation of such plastics.
    • Compostable plastics, on the other hand, degrade but require specialized industrial or municipal waste management facilities for decomposition.
  • Amendments to Plastic Waste Management Rules
    • The recent amendments to India’s Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2024, define biodegradable plastics not only as materials capable of degradation in specific environments like soil or landfills but also as plastics that do not leave any microplastics behind upon decomposition.
    • Challenges in Implementation
      • While the new rules mandate the absence of microplastics in biodegradable plastics, there is ambiguity regarding the specific chemical tests required to establish this criterion.
      • Hence, there is a need for standardized testing methods to determine microplastic levels accurately.
      • Any future standards for microplastics should apply to both compostable and biodegradable plastics for fairness.
    • Plastic pollution and Biodegradable Plastics
      • In response to the growing concern over plastic pollution, the Union government of India implemented a ban on single-use plastics in 2022.
      • As part of this initiative, there was a recommendation to adopt biodegradable plastics as an alternative solution.
      • The adoption of biodegradable plastics faced challenges, particularly concerning the lack of clarity regarding its definition and certification process.
      • Manufacturers, including those utilizing technologies, encountered difficulties in obtaining certification for their biodegradable products.
      • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) refused to issue a ‘provisional certificate’ to license these products, as their samples did not meet the requirement of 90% degradation within a specified timeframe.
      • Manufacturers showing partial degradation within a shorter duration were denied certification due to the absence of clear guidelines on the acceptable degree of degradation.

What are microplastics?

  • Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic debris that are less than 5 millimeters in size, often invisible to the naked eye.
  • They can be either intentionally manufactured at a small scale for various purposes or result from the breakdown of larger plastic items, such as bottles, bags, and packaging, due to weathering and degradation processes.
  • There are two main types of microplastics:
    • Primary Microplastics:
      • These are small plastic particles that are intentionally manufactured for specific purposes, such as in cosmetics, personal care products (e.g., microbeads in exfoliating scrubs), industrial abrasives, or pellets used in plastic production processes.
      • These particles are released directly into the environment.
    • Secondary Microplastics:
      • These are formed through the degradation and fragmentation of larger plastic items in the environment due to processes like weathering, sunlight exposure (photodegradation), and mechanical action (e.g., wave action, abrasion).
      • Secondary microplastics can result from the breakdown of items such as plastic bottles, bags, fishing gear, and synthetic textiles.

What is Biodegradable Plastic and Compostable Plastic?

  • Biodegradable Plastics:
    • Biodegradable plastics are capable of undergoing degradation by microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, fungi) into simpler compounds such as water, carbon dioxide, and biomass.
    • The degradation process of biodegradable plastics can occur in various environments, including soil, water, and composting facilities.
    • However, it’s essential to note that not all biodegradable plastics degrade rapidly or completely in typical environmental conditions.
      • Some may require specific conditions or facilities to biodegrade effectively.
    • Biodegradable plastics can be made from various sources, including fossil fuels (petroleum-based) or renewable resources (such as plant-based materials like corn starch or sugarcane).
    • Biodegradable plastics can help reduce plastic waste in landfills and ecosystems if properly managed and disposed of.
  • Compostable Plastics:
    • Compostable plastics are a subset of biodegradable plastics designed to break down under controlled composting conditions, typically in industrial composting facilities.
    • These plastics undergo degradation into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass within a specified timeframe, leaving behind no visible or toxic residue.
    • Compostable plastics must meet specific standards and certifications, such as those outlined by organizations like the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) or European Norm (EN 13432), to ensure their compostability.
    • Compostable plastics can help divert organic waste from landfills, promote soil health through compost application, and contribute to circular economy principles by closing the loop on waste management.

About the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2024

  • India’s Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2024, were introduced by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to address the pressing issue of plastic waste management in the country.
  • These rules aim to regulate the stocking, distribution, sales, and usage of prohibited single-use plastic items to mitigate the environmental impact of plastic pollution.
  • The rules emphasize strengthening compliance with plastic waste management regulations and promoting responsible practices in the production, processing, and recycling of plastic materials.
  • The key provisions include:
    • Prohibition of certain single-use plastics:
      • The rules prohibit the use of specific single-use plastic items to reduce plastic waste generation and promote sustainable practices.
    • Requirement for manufacturers:
      • Manufacturers of commodities made from plastic or part thereof are mandated to ensure the processing of pre-consumer plastic waste generated in their production processes, emphasizing responsible waste management practices within the manufacturing sector.
    • Reporting obligations for recycling and processing entities:
      • Individuals engaged in recycling or processing of plastic waste are required to prepare and submit an annual report online to the local body, enhancing monitoring, compliance, and transparency in plastic waste management activities.
    • Permission for compostable or biodegradable plastics:
      • The amendment allows the manufacture of carry bags and commodities from compostable or biodegradable plastics, subject to mandatory marking and labeling requirements, ensuring environmentally friendly alternatives in plastic production.