The Maharashtra Plastic ban today has entered its third day and as predicted led to a great deal of confusion among the citizens as well as commercial establishments.
Several small retailers had to pay heavy fines and bear the brunt of the ban thanks to what they termed as improper and confusing communication from the civic authority.
Where restaurants and hotels have shifted to paper, cardboard, aluminum boxes for delivery orders, they still are struggling to delivery curry, ‘dals’ and other gravy (liquid) dishes that is impossible to pack securely in these boxes. Some have also discontinued parcel orders until viable alternatives are found.
According to Pune Municipal Corporation, on the first day of the ban, they collected fines worth Rs 3,69,100 lakh and seized more than 8,700 kilograms of plastic items.
In a statement to PTI, General Secretary, Plastic Bags Manufacturers Association of India (PBMAI), Neemit Punamiya said, “The ban imposed by Maharashtra from Saturday has hit the industry very hard and the plastic industry is staring at a loss of Rs 15,000 crore, leaving nearly 3 lakh people jobless overnight.”
Speaking to Pune365, president of Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers Association (PRAHA), Ganesh Shetty said, “Our industry has seen a major setback since the ban.
Majority of the dishes were packed delivered in plastic containers and carry bags. Although we are willing to do away with the carry bags, we expect the government to permit us to use containers that are above 50 microns, which can be reused.
“But currently to avoid major losses on home-delivery, we have purchased steel tiffin boxes and are telling our customers to keep some empty vessels handy, so that when the delivery guy comes with the food packed in the tiffin, they can empty them and return it to us.
We have already started with this experiment since Saturday and have received good response.”
He also mentions that 20% of their business has been affected. Apparently, the food delivery applications like Zomato and Swiggy are almost on the verge of a cessation of services due to this lack of material for packaging.
We cannot give our tiffin boxes to Zomato and Swiggy because we invest in it. This idea however is feasible and can be used in the future, although we have some issues executing it. But it is better than losing our customers.
These boxes will be hygienic as we wash them ourselves in the restaurant. We have told all our restaurant members to try this option as it is the only option we are having currently, and we are going to use it to retain our customers.
“Also, if a customer comes for a take away order without a container, we will keep a deposit which is refunded when the steel container is returned.” adds Shetty.
“This is unfair to us to just charge us with a sum as high as Rs 5000 by the officials,” said a grocery shop owner. “
On 23rd, a fellow shop owner who is just two shops away (currently closed) was fined. We are still adjusting to the ban and finding alternatives to ensure our customers return. Some have bags, some don’t, and the cloth bags are costlier for us to provide them. I think, we still need some time,” he adds.
A lady from a local self-help group that makes home made food items points out on the availability of packed food by brands like lays and why they aren’t being prosecuted. “The locals have been trying to make ends meet but something like this, will cause a hinderance in the manufacturing process. Packing pickles would be difficult in cloth or paper bags.
Moreover, why aren’t these big companies fined for selling their products wrapped in plastic bags. They can afford to pay such fines, we cannot,” she quips.
# According to the government’s notification, the fine for first-time and second-time offenders will be Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively. A third violation will attract a fine of Rs 25,000 and a jail term for three months.
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