UGC Urges Colleges to be Plastic Free, Issues Guidelines

The University Grant Commission (UGC), in a recent notice, has requested colleges to reduce the use of plastics on campus. The notice specifically mentions avoiding the use of single-use plastics and disposing off plastic wastes. “All the universities and affiliated colleges /institutes are requested to make the awareness programme impactfully in order to avoid the use of single plastics,” the official notice read.

This notice has come in continuation to the earlier notice issued in September 2019. The notice back then had laid guidelines to avoid the use of single-use plastics in university and institution campuses. The guidelines also asked to carry out awareness drives workshops on the harmful impacts of single-use plastics, mandate all students to avoid bringing non-biodegradable plastic items to the institution, and install necessary alternative facilities like water units to avoid the use of plastic. It also asked to encourage the students to sensitise their respective households about the harmful effects of plastics and make their households plastic-free.

The directive comes in observance of the 75 week-long campaign launched by the Government of India under the name, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. The campaign that will culminate on August 15, 2023, aims at celebrating the achievements of the country and its people. “This campaign not only commemorates the achievements but also motivates and encourages citizens to take positive steps for the growth of the country,” read the notice.

One of the themes identified by the government for this campaign is “Awareness programs to avoid the use of single use plastics” with a view to gather momentum, scale visibility, and outreach. The notice further stated that awareness of single-use plastic can also be raised through the recently notified Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.

Plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic or PVC banners under 100 microns are some of the single-use plastic items among others that will be prohibited from July 1, 2022. In regard to the same, a webinar was organised wherein Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupendra Yadav interacted with the students and youth from across the country. The union minister suggested that conscious changes in behaviour were necessary as there is no Planet B and that what we have is not our parental property.

Higher education institutions, which have adopted villages under the ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’, should undertake a campaign in their adopted villages till they are converted into ‘plastic-free villages’. The guidelines are an effort to encourage the universities and colleges to adopt policies and practices towards cleaner and plastic-free campuses.

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