Daily Mains Newsletter for UPSC 28 Dec 2021

Daily Mains Newsletter For
UPSC | RaghukulCS

28 Dec 2021 - Tuesday

Index

Table of Contents

Plan to tackle Plastic Waste and Issues

What is the issue?

  • The Environment Ministry published draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which denote a backslide, particularly with respect to the integration of the informal sector.

What is EPR?

  • As of 2019, about 660,787.85 tonnes of plastic waste is produced in India annually, of which around 60% is reportedly recycled and most are single-use plastic.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility – financial/ physical for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products.
  • It helps advance the circular economy, decreases the environmental impact from a product and its packaging, and promotes the principle of “polluter pays” by holding the producer accountable for the entire lifecycle of the product.
  • India first introduced EPR in 2011 under the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, and E-Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011.
  • The objectives of EPR are:
    • Integration of environmental costs
    • Improved waste management
    • Reduction of disposal
    • Reduction of the burden on municipalities
    • Design of environmentally sound products

What is the draft rule about?

  • It mandates producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024 and ensure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled as well as used in subsequent supply.
  • Categories of plastic packaging- Plastic packaging, as per the rules fall into three categories.
    1. Rigid plastic packaging
    2. Flexible plastic packaging
    3. Multi-layered plastic packaging
  • Producers of plastic will be obliged to declare to the government through the website how much plastic they produce annually.
  • Companies will have to collect at least 35% of the target in 2021-22, 70% by 2022-23, and 100% by 2024.
  • If entities cannot fulfill their obligations, they will on a case-by-case basis be permitted to buy certificates from organisations that have used recycled content in excess of their obligation.
  • The CPCB will develop a mechanism for such exchanges on a centralised online portal.
  • An environmental compensation will be levied, though the rules do not specify how much this compensation will be.
  • The manufacture of a range of plastic products such as plastic sticks, plastic flags, candy, and ice-cream sticks, thermocol, plates, cups, glasses, plastic cutlery, wrapping or packing films, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, etc will be banned from July 2022.
  • Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled such as multi-layered multi-material plastics will be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil, and cement kilns.
  • The methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board will only be permitted for their disposal.

What are the criticisms of the draft rule?

  • The draft rule fails to mention the waste pickers or mechanisms for their incorporation under EPR.
  • The guidelines fall short in three areas – People, Plastics, and Processing.

People

  • Waste pickers from the base of a pyramid divert waste towards recycling and reuse, waste pickers also subsidize local governments responsible for solid waste management.
  • Most informal waste pickers in India work without social security, health insurance, minimum wages, or basic protective gear.
  • The guidelines don’t involve them as stakeholders in formulating the guidelines and don’t direct producers to set up a private, parallel plastic waste collection and recycling chain.

Plastics

  • The EPR guidelines are limited to plastic packaging leaving out many multi-material plastic items like sanitary pads, chappals, and polyester that pose a huge waste management challenge today.
  • Flexible plastics like LDPE and PP bags are recyclable, but due to their contamination with organic waste, lightweight, and high volume, the cost of recycling is very expensive compared to the market value of the output.
  • Multi-layered and multi-material plastics are low weight and voluminous, making them expensive to handle and transport, and recycling is technologically challenging as it is heterogeneous material.

Processing

  • Processes like waste-to-energy, co-processing, and incineration have been proven to release carbon dioxide, particulate matter, harmful dioxins, and furans which have negative climate and health impacts.
  • Technologies like chemical recycling and pyrolysis are capital-intensive, releases pollutants, yield low returns, and run into frequent breakdowns and technological problems.
  • A number of gasification, pyrolysis and other chemical recycling projects have figured in accidents such as fires, explosions, and financial losses.
  • But the draft regulations legitimize them to justify the continued production of multi-layered plastics.

What must be the focus of the government?

  • EPR funds could be deployed for mapping and registration of the informal sector actors, building their capacity, upgrading infrastructure, promoting technology transfer, and monitoring mechanisms.
  • For easily recycled plastics, the informal sector can be formalized and their work can be documented and can be provided with adequate compensation.
  • The government should redo the consultation process for the draft guidelines and involve informal workers.
  • The end-of-life processing technologies should be closely evaluated, based not only on their health and environmental impacts but also on the implications for the continued production of low-quality and multi-layered plastics.

How James Webb Telescope will see back in time

Context:

  • The world’s most powerful space telescope blasted off into orbit, headed to an outpost 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth, after several delays caused by technical hitches.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope, some three decades and billions of dollars in the making, left Earth enclosed in its Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana

About James Webb Space Telescope (JSWT):

  • JWST is a joint venture between the USA (NASA), European (ESA), and Canadian space agencies (CSA).
  • It is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity.
  • Webb was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST) and it was renamed in 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.
  • It will be a large infrared telescope with an approximately 6.5-meter primary mirror.

What is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) significance?

  • It is widely expected to unveil many secrets of the universe, particularly those related to the formation of stars and galaxies in the early period the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang.
  • Powerful space telescopes, like JWST or the Hubble Telescope, are often called time-machines because of their ability to view very faraway objects. The light coming from those objects, stars, or galaxies, which is captured by these telescopes, began its journey millions of years earlier.
  • Essentially, what these telescopes see are images of these stars or galaxies as they were millions of years ago. The more distant the planet or star, the farther back in time are the telescopes able to see.
  • JWST is much more powerful and has the ability to look in the infrared spectrum, which will allow it to peer through much deeper into the universe, and see-through obstructions such as gas clouds.
  • As electromagnetic waves travel for long distances, they lose energy, resulting in an increase in their wavelength.
  • An ultraviolet wave can slowly move into the visible light spectrum and the infrared spectrum and further weaken to microwaves or radio waves, as it loses energy.
  • Hubble was designed to look mainly into the ultraviolet and visible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. 
  • It can also analyze the atmospheres of exoplanets that pass in front of their stars.
  • It will look at a large number of things in the universe including icy moons, distant exoplanets, and galaxy clusters.

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) use the phenomenon of “gravitational lensing”:

  • The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will use a natural phenomenon called “gravitational lensing” to carry out astronomical observations.
  • The phenomenon of gravitational lensing occurs when a huge amount of matter, such as a massive galaxy, cluster of galaxies, or a black hole, creates a gravitational field that distorts and magnifies the light from objects behind it and this phenomenon is based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity (Mass bend light).
  • The gravitational field of a massive object causes light rays passing close to that object to be bent and refocused somewhere else.
  • The more massive the object, the stronger its gravitational field and hence the greater the bending of light rays – just like using denser materials to make optical lenses results in a greater amount of refraction. So, gravitational lenses act like natural cosmic telescopes.

Webb vs Hubble Telescope:

  • Unlike the Hubble telescope that orbits the Earth at an altitude of around 570 km, the Webb will instead sit 1.5 million kilometers away from the Earth to stay in a stable, predictable orbit around the Sun.
  • Furthermore, Webb is capable of viewing the Universe in longer-wavelength infrared light while Hubble studies it primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
  • With a much bigger mirror than Hubble, Webb can peer farther back into time than Hubble

Conclusion:

  • Webb will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System, etc.
  • Scientists hope this set-up can detect the light from the very first population of stars in the Universe to switch on more than 13.5 billion years ago.

Ethics | Paper – IV | Terms

Deontology:

  • This is one of the main approaches with regard to the structure of moral theory and its conception of the locus of moral value.
  • In a deontological theory, duties (and correlatively, rights) are fundamental, in contrast to, say, consequences, intended outcomes, or the character of the agent. None of those is the central consideration for a deontologist.
  • Virtue may still be regarded as important.

 

Dexterity:

  • It is the skill in performing tasks, especially with the hands.
  • It is the ability that a person possesses which enables him to perform a particular task.
  • This ability can be manual or acquired. However, it is a practice that leads to the refining of a particular skill.
  • Even civil servants must possess this attribute so that they can be more efficient in their functioning. They can then perform the work themselves without depending on anyone.

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