India bans single-use plastics on ships in domestic waters

1 November 2019

India has become the first country in the world to ban single-use plastics on ships sailing in its waters. The ban will take effect in two stages – the first effective immediately and the second stage on 1 January 2020.

The ban applies to all Indian ships and to foreign flag vessels calling at Indian ports or transitioning Indian waters. Crews must store all banned items during port calls and checks will be carried out by Port State Control.

India's Directorate General of Shipping said that items prohibited with immediate effect include cutlery, plates, cups, drinking water bottles up to 10 litres, garbage and shopping bags as well as dispensing containers for cleaning fluids which are less than 10 litres.

As of 1 January 2020, additional barred products will include bags, trays, containers, food packing film, milk bottles, freeze bags, shampoo bottles, ice cream containers, bottles for water and other drinks, dispensing containers for cleaning fluids, biscuit trays, hot drink cups, insulated food packing, protective packing for fragile items, microwave dishes, ice cream tubs, potato chip bags and bottle caps.

Vessels calling at Indian ports will have to make a log entry identifying the single-use plastic Items onboard the ship, along with the onboard location of where these items are stored, and the time and ship's position of when this is done.

Over the years, the country has collaborated in the work of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) including the prevention of marine pollution. The Directorate General of Shipping cited International Maritime Organization (IMO) as saying that marine litter 'presents a huge problem in our oceans,' with some scientists warning that, by 2050, the quantity of plastics in the oceans could outweigh fish.

China is expected to follow suit ahead of further discussion at the IMO.