Daily Editorial Analysis for 10th August 2021

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A circular economy for plastic

Why in News

  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has long been at the forefront of addressing issues challenging the well­being of society.
  • Of the many sustainability challenges that impact societies, climate change and plastic waste have a special significance.
  • A 2019 report by the Center for International Environmental Law suggests that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatons, 10­13% of the remaining carbon budget.
  • However, viewed from the angle of livelihoods, postconsumer segregation, collection and disposal of plastics make up about half of the income of 1.5­ 4 million waste­pickers in India.
  • A 2021 report commissioned by Google, Closing the Plastics Circularity Gap, suggests that unless largescale global interventions are made, we should expect to mismanage more than 7.7 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste globally over the next 20 years, which is equivalent to 16 times the weight of the human population.
  • Among the many applications of plastic, plastic packaging is the largest.

The solution

  • For India, the solution must be multipronged, systemic, and large scale, to create a visible impact.
  • The Plastics Pacts model offers such a solution and is active in a number of countries including the U.K., South Africa, and Australia.
  • It is now being brought to India by CII and WWF India.
  • The Plastics Pacts are business led initiatives and transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products.
  • The Pacts bring together everyone from across the plastics value chain to implement practical solutions.
  • All Pacts unite behind four targets:
  • To eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation;
  • To ensure all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable;
  • To increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging; and
  • To increase recycled content in plastic packaging.
  • The India Plastics Pact, the first in Asia, will be launched in September at the CII Annual Sustainability Summit.
  • It can be expected to boost demand for recycled content, investments in recycling infrastructure, jobs in the waste sector, and beyond.
  • The first Plastics Pact was launched in the U.K. in 2018, by WRAP, a global NGO based in the U.K., in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
  • The U.K. Pact helped channel over £120 million worth of investments in recycling infrastructure resulting in 300,000 tonnes of new recycling capacity.
  • The Pact will support the Extended Producer Responsibility framework of the government and improve solid waste management as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • Integral to the Pact’s framework is the involvement of the informal waste sector crucial to postconsumer segregation, collection and processing of plastic waste.
  • The India Plastics Pact is supported by WRAP, which supports many Pacts globally. This association will ensure access to expertise and knowledge from different Pacts worldwide.

The India Plastics Pact

  • The India Plastics Pact focuses on solutions and innovation. Members’ accountability is ensured through ambitious targets and annual data reporting.
  • The Pact will develop a road map for guidance, form action groups composed of members, and initiate innovation projects.
  • While the India Plastics Pact will be active in India, it will link globally with other Plastics Pacts. Many Indian businesses and organisations have expressed an interest in signing up to the Pact.
  • Deeper and long-lasting benefits will be felt across the supply chains of these businesses, most of which comprise MSMEs.
  • The Pact will encourage development and maturing of the entire plastics production and management ecosystem.
  • Apart from benefits to society and economy, delivering the targets will drive circularity of plastics and help tackle pollution.
  • They will lead to significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.


Code red

Why in News

  • The IPCC has issued arguably its strongest warning yet on impending catastrophe from unmitigated global warming caused by human activity, lending scientific credence to the argument that rising wildfires, heatwaves, extreme rainfall and floods witnessed in recent times are all strongly influenced by a changing climate.
  • In a stark report on the physical science basis of climate change contributed for a broader Assessment Report of the UN, the IPCC’s Working Group I have called for deep cuts to carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases and a move to net zero emissions, as the world would otherwise exceed 1.5°C and 2°C of warming during the 21st century with permanent consequences.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • Climate change is described by many as a far greater threat to humanity than COVID­19, because of its irreversible impacts.
  • The latest report is bound to strengthen the criticism that leaders in many countries have stonewalled and avoided moving away from coal and other fossil fuels, while even those who promised to act, failed to influence the multilateral system.
  • The new report attributes catastrophic events to sustained global warming, particularly the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, heavy precipitation agricultural and ecological droughts, proportion of intense tropical cyclones, reductions in Arctic Sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.
  • A phenomenon such as heavy rainfall over land, for instance, could be 10.5% wetter in a world warmer by 1.5°C, and occur 1.5 times more often, compared to the 1850­1900 period.
  • More than five years after the Paris Agreement was concluded, there is no consensus on raising ambition to reduce emissions, making access to low carbon technologies easier, and adequately funding mitigation and adaptation.
  • COVID­19 had the unexpected effect of marginally and temporarily depressing emissions.
  • The IPCC’s analysis presents scenarios of large­scale collapse of climate systems that future leaders would find virtually impossible to manage.
  • Heatwaves and heavy rainfall events experienced with increasing frequency and intensity are just two of these, while disruptions to the global water cycle pose a more unpredictable threat.
  • Also, if emissions continue to rise, oceans and land, two important sinks and the latter a key part of India’s climate action plan, would be greatly weakened in their ability to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide.


  • The new report sets the stage for the CoP26 conference in November.
  • The only one course to adopt there is for developed countries with legacy emissions to effect deep cuts, transfer technology without strings to emerging economies and heavily fund mitigation and adaptation.
  • Developing nations should then have no hesitation in committing themselves to steeper emissions cuts.


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