The UGC bans plastic in universities

The University Grant Commission or UGC on Friday issued guidelines to ban the use of plastic in universities. The objective of Swachhata Hi Sewa Campaigns can be completed through the Higher Education Institutions (HEI), detailed guidelines are enclosed which may be adopted in universities and colleges.

“Ban take-away coffee cup, lunch wrapped in disposable plastic packaging, plastic bags, disposable food service cups, plates, containers made in polystyrene foam and plastic straws. Restrict single-use plastic water bottle and encourage use of refillable bottles instead,” the UGC said to vice-chancellors. 

“Hosting this prestigious event is a step towards our commitment to undertake global leadership on addressing all forms of pollution, reducing emissions and investing in sustainable development efforts. This is an opportunity for collective efforts to reduce the use of plastic and the HRD Ministry has desired that the students be encouraged to refuse, reduce, and re-use plastic product in their daily uses,” the letter said. 

The guidelines

The UGC official website laid down these guidelines:

 “1. Scope of guidelines:

(a) These guidelines are applicable to all the higher educational institutions (HEIs) in the Country. 

(b) They encourage HEIs (universities and colleges) to adopt policies and practices towards cleaner and plastic free campuses.

2. All the HEIs in the Country shall strive to make their campuses ‘plastic-free’ by systematically banning use of plastics and replacing the same with suitable environmental friendly substitutes.

 3. Every HEI shall:

a. Ban use of single-use plastics in canteens, shopping complexes in the institution’s premises and hostels, etc.

b. Carry out awareness drives and sensitization workshops on the harmful impacts of single use plastics.

c. Mandate all students to avoid bringing non-bio-degradable plastic items to the institution.

 d. Encourage their students to sensitize their respective households about harmful effects of plastics and make their households ‘plastic free’

e. Install necessary alternative facilities like water units to avoid the use of plastic water bottles, and encourage use of alternative solutions like cloth bags, paper bags etc., instead of plastic bottles, bags, covers and other goods on campuses.

 4. All HEIs which have adopted villages under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan shall undertake a campaign in their adopted villages till they are converted into ‘plastic-free villages’ through promoting awareness and encouraging shift to alternative products.

The Reasons

The UGC gave the following reasons are the to ban plastic:

Plastic waste has emerged as one of the biggest environmental concerns adversely impacting the soil, water, health and well-being of citizens at large.

Excess-consumption of plastic combined with limited waste disposal systems has become a challenge to the urban waste disposal systems, and has choked the rivers and water systems in rural areas.

The time has come for a systematic campaign to reduce the usage of plastic, and especially the single use plastic.

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