Ban on Single-Use Plastics – Implementation Status: A Report


This report, published by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, provides an overview of the Indian government’s policies to combat the problem of single-use plastics (SUPs) and their implementation. The report has been written by Siddharth Ghanshyam Singh and Minakshi Solanki, researchers with CSE with direction from Atin Biswas.

On June 5, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a commitment to phase out single-use plastics by 2022. This commitment was further emphasized in subsequent national addresses. In 2021, the Indian government prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of 19 specific single-use plastic items identified as having “low utility but high littering potential​​.” The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notified the ban on identified single-use plastics (SUPs) in August 2021 and it came into force on July 1, 2022.

This study evaluates the effectiveness of the ban, the challenges faced in its enforcement, and the overall progress made towards reducing single-use plastic pollution. It provides detailed insights into the types of plastics banned, the regulatory framework, and the responses of government authorities, businesses, and the general public. The report also discusses the environmental and social implications of the ban and suggests ways forward for more effective plastic waste management and reduction strategies in India.

This 84-page document is divided into five sections: Introduction (Section 1); Comprehensive action plan issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Section 2); CSE Survey of implementation of ban on single-use plastics in India (Section 3); Key findings of the report (Section 4); and The way forward (Section 5).


  1. India defined single-use plastic in August 2021 through the Plastic Waste Management (First Amendment) Rules, 2021. It is defined as “a plastic item intended to be used once for the same purpose before being disposed of or recycled.”

  2. The report argues that the current definition of single-use plastic fails to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary plastics, allowing plastics like multilayered packaging to circulate unabated under the rationale that there aren’t enough alternatives for them. This allows major polluters to continue production and distribution.

  3. The 2019 Plastic Waste Makers Index indicates that globally, India was the thirteenth highest investor in the production of single-use plastic polymers. In terms of generating single-use plastic waste, India held the third position worldwide producing 5.5 million tonnes annually. Implementing the single-use plastic (SUP) ban in India is projected to tackle 11 per cent of the worldwide single-use plastic waste burden.

  4. The SUP items to be banned were determined based on a report by an expert committee constituted by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (DCPC). The report assessed two parameters for the ban on SUPs: their utility and their environmental impact.

  5. The report also argues that the methodology of the ban was unclear, given that SUPs like cigarette filters and small plastic bottles that garnered low utility points but had high environmental impact were not banned.

  6. The ambiguity in the ban allows manufacturers to escape enforcement, the report states. It cites the example of thermocol (expanded polystyrene), which has been banned but only for the purpose of decoration. The authors argue that this allows manufacturers to still produce it for other purposes like packaging and obstructs enforcement since the agencies do not have control over the buyers and for what purpose it is used.

  7. The study highlights that despite Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) initial announcement, information related to district-wise inventory of SUP producers, sellers and users; status of compliance with SUP bans; and details of field inspections were not available in the public domain.

  8. The CPCB also launched a grievance redressal app, the aim of which was to encourage citizen participation. The application allowed reporting of the manufacture or usage of banned SUP items. The complaints through the app stagnated within eight months of the imposition of the ban, notes the report. By March 2023, the total volume of complaints stood roughly at 6,000 with participation from 138 cities, at least 40 percent of which had single-digit complaints. The study also highlights the low redressal rate – by the end of March 2023, only 24.84 per cent of the total filed complaints were redressed.

  9. The report notes that roughly Rs. 20 crores have been collected in 13 states and union territories as fines – highest in Uttar Pradesh (Rs. 12 crores) and lowest in Pondicherry (Rs. 50 thousand). However, details regarding the utilization of this money have not been made available in the public domain.

  10. The Centre for Science and Environment conducted surveys between July-December 2022 to understand the perception of citizens and small businesses towards the ban. Citizens cited lack of alternatives as the biggest obstruction to combating SUPs. The surveys also showed that the most prevalent SUPs in circulation were carry bags, followed by plastic straws and cutlery items.

  11. Surveys with small businesses identified a lack of awareness and cooperation from customers as the greatest challenges in implementing the ban, followed by a lack of alternatives. They also further confirmed that carry bags were the most commonly used SUP items by businesses.

  12. The report argues that the regulation of carry bags based on thickness has not been successful. They present the case of the Himachal Pradesh Non-biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 1995 to argue for a total ban on carry bags regardless of thickness.

  13. The Tobacco Institute of India (TII) declared using biodegradable plastics for packaging cigarette boxes in July 2022, the report notes. However, in April 2023, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) issued a statement stating that there were no completely biodegradable plastics in the country.

  14. The report advocates for more transparency about the functionality of CPCB’s comprehensive plan to the public. In addition, it also recommends banning carry bags regardless of thickness and investing in alternatives through mechanisms like subsidies.

    Focus and Factoids by Ishan Tyagi.


Atin Biswas, Siddharth Ghanshyam Singh and Minakshi Solanki


Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi


07 Sep, 2023