Plastic-Free Cities & Oceans: A National Policy Dialogue with Cyrill Gutsch, Founder and CEO of “Parley for the Oceans”

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Government of India launched the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) on 25 June 2015 for development of 100 cities as Smart Cities. The cities were selected through 4 rounds of competition from January 2016 to June 2018.

Delhi, Oct 23
In view of the pressing need for combating plastic pollution, NITI Aayog organized a National Policy Dialogue on Friday on “Plastic Free Cities and Oceans” under the Chairmanship of Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, with Cyrill Gutsch, founder and CEO of “Parley for the Oceans”.

Bhupender Yadav, Minister of Environment, Forest,and Climate Change was the Chief Guest at the dialogue.

On World Environment Day in 2018, the Prime Minister had committed to eliminate 100% single-use plastic by 2022. Since then, India has taken several regulatory interventions, including bans and prohibitions, to attain the set targets.

While congratulating Gutsch, the minister, MoEF&CC Yadav highlighted the key initiatives of the Ministry for tackling the issue of plastic waste—Plastic Waste Management Rules 2021 and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

The dialogue was attended by Eric Solheim, former Norway minister of environment and international development and former executive director of the UNEP; ambassadors of Japan and Norway;representatives from Denmark and Sweden; India Country Head, UNEP; and several senior officials of relevant ministries. Senior officials of coastal and Ganga-basin states and eminent academics joined virtually.

In his insightful presentation, Gutsch give highlighted the need for greater participation of large corporates and innovators to achieve results in this area. He put forward the concept of material redesigning for making a clean break from future use of virgin plastics. He shared that he has developed and patented an eco-innovative alternative “Parley Ocean Plastic” – a game-changing fiber from intercepted and upcycled marine plastic debris, and has collaborated with brands like Adidas, Stella McCartney, American Express and Corona to set up new industry standards. These type of breakthroughs are needed to free the world from toxic plastics.

Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, while arguing that plastic waste management brings a unique cross-cutting opportunity to contribute towards 14 of the 17 SDGs, suggested collaboration with National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Islands for tracing plastics in River Ganga and coastal areas for strengthening plastic waste management.

CEO, NITI Aayog, expressed that the plastic is the classic example of boon turned bane in society. He also advanced that India is a pioneering country for pledging to phase out single-use plastic by 2022. He also highlighted that in the age of technological advancement, innovations shall be the way ahead, and should be promoted while taking care of varied needs of the country.

The dialogue discussed recycling and reuse of plastic products, support for research and innovation to replace single-use plastics, institutional strengthening, public awareness, continued review and improvement of activities and implementation of regulations at regional, national, and international levels.

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