India will be the Second Leading Polluter of water bodies due to Microplastics after China in the world, according to the Plastic Overshoot Day (POD) Report, 2024.

Key Findings

  • According to the report, China, India, the United States, and Japan are projected to collectively contribute 51% of the total microplastic volume released into water bodies.
  • India is anticipated to release 391,879 tonnes of microplastics, ranking as the second-largest contributor after China, which is expected to release 787,069 tonnes.
  • The chemical additives in the microplastics accumulate in waterbodies and have serious impacts on human health.
  • Common additives released from microplastic include heavy metals, polyamidoamine-epichlorohydrins, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
  • The release of chemical additives into water bodies is estimated to reach 291,071 tonnes by 2024, with China, India, the Russian Federation, and Brazil accounting for 40% of this total.
  • India is projected to release 31,483 tonnes of chemical additives from microplastics, ranking second after China (59,208 tonnes).
  • Despite improvements in global plastics waste management, plastic waste generation has increased by 7.11% since 2021, highlighting the urgency of addressing the plastics crisis beyond recycling and waste management capacity.
  • The world is estimated to have generated 220 million tonnes of plastic waste this year.


  • Microplastics, small fragments of plastic materials, that are less than 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) in length, are found in the environment. 
  • Microplastics can come from a variety of sources including larger plastic pieces that have broken apart, resin pellets used for plastic manufacturing, or in the form of small microbeads manufactured plastic beads used in health and beauty products.
  • These particles are distinct from larger plastic items known as “macroplastics,” such as plastic bottles and bags. 
  • Types of Microplastics: 
  • Primary microplastics are tiny particles designed for commercial use, such as cosmetics, as well as microfibers shed from clothing and other textiles, such as fishing nets. 
  • Secondary microplastics are particles that result from the breakdown of larger plastic items, such as water bottles. This breakdown is caused by exposure to environmental factors, mainly the sun’s radiation and ocean waves.

Environmental Impact

  • Microplastics are not biodegraded, leading to their accumulation and persistence in the environment. 
  • They can be ingested by marine organisms, posing risks to aquatic life and accumulating along the food chain. 
  • Additionally, microplastics can carry toxic chemicals and pollutants, further endangering organisms and ecosystems.

Government Initiatives

India’s initiatives:

  • Ban on single-use plastics by 2022.
  • Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 

Global Initiatives

  • Plastic Pacts
  • London Convention 1972
  • Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML)

Way Forward

  • 3R’s + E Strategy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Educate to minimize plastic pollution and promote sustainable practices.
  • Enforce Legal Measures: Implement laws, policies, and taxation to incentivize eco-friendly alternatives and regulate plastic production and disposal.
  • Implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Programs: Hold manufacturers accountable for product lifecycles and promote collaboration for effective waste management.

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