On March 18, 2018, Maharashtra announced a ban on a variety of plastic products ranging from plastic carry bags to thermocol and disposable cutlery.
This ban comes after the first one imposed in July 2005 (when the state government attempted to ban the sale and use of plastic bags below 50 microns) failed as consequence of poor implementation.
This time around, the government has given a three-month window to dispose all the plastic products produced and in stock.
With the deadline of June 23 just around the corner, Pune365 decided to check on the current scenario in the city and how it is coping with the ban:
The president of the The All India Plastics Manufacturers Association Hiten Bheda has on their website termed the ban of plastic, as unfortunate. “As a most efficient material at construction, plastic has replaced most of the alternative materials which are now being reconsidered for use as substitute.
Unfortunately inspite of the common perception, an Environment Impact Assessment of such alternatives indicated, that their use can lead to much deeper impact on the environment. Plastics in fact serves, and it is littering that pollutes and hence the focus ought to be on addressing the latter,” added Bheda.
Ravi Jashnani, President of the Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association, says that there is no clear picture of the ban as of now. Neither have any alternatives that have been suggested by the government.
Banned products made of plastic and non-woven bags can be seen circulating in the market via liquor shops, juice and fruits vendors and others. It is only after June 23 that we will have a clear vision of how effectively has the ban been implemented.
Jyoti Nayak, a Restaurateur, thinks that the ban was implemented without a proper alternative plan in place. “The government knew that plastic was highly used. Then why didn’t they think of an alternative to that.
Currently we aren’t using plastic bags but the boxes in which we parcel the food items are made of plastic. Soon, we won’t be able to do so. Then how are we expected to operate? An increase in our cost will further burden the consumers,” Nayak adds.
Amidst all the chaos, city-based NGOs believe that, the plastic ban is a movement that has just begun. Sesh Damerla, Author and Soft Skills consultant is closely connected with a 25-year-old non-profit organization and a ladies study group Spectrum, that also makes cloth and paper bags.
Speaking on the ground reality of the ban, she says, “With the plastic ban initiative, I have definitely seen changes in the mindset of people. They now voluntarily are quitting on the use of plastic. In my society I have seen a massive decrease in the amount of plastic waste.
People are now taking their own cloth or paper bags to the shops. Many other non-profit organizations, exhibitors and women’s councils are approaching us, demanding such bags and the demand has increased.
Gradually, the markets are going plastic free, but there is a long way to go.
Damerla also mentioned that they are expecting an increase in the demand of cloth and paper bags after the NGO restarts its manufacturing from 27th June, soon after the deadline to dispose of all banned plastic items. It is when the exact ground reality of the implementation can be gauged.
“We will provide a bag only if you buy the fruits in large quantity,” says a local fruit seller when asked if she has a plastic bag available. She further stated that her sales were affected since they were unable to provide poly bags.
We stand at the corners of the roads selling fruits. Most of the customers are office going people. They do not have cloth bags with them. Failing to provide them a sturdy bag to carry dozens of fruits, they refuse to buy, due to this inconvenience in transportation.
Moreover, we cannot afford a bag worth Rs 15 when we hardly earn anything. Hence, we secretly provide the plastic bag, but only when the customers buy huge quantities” she adds.
“It will take time for us to even adjust to the fact of carrying a cloth bag when going out,” says Pravin, a student and resident of Kothrud. “
Every time we bought something, we were given the products in poly-bags. There were disposable cutlery and food containers that were useful, cheap and hassle-free during a party or to avoid cleaning.
Now, even to get a dish of Idli packed from the local shop, we have to take our own boxes. At times, when there aren’t too many customers, he provides it for his regulars, but it is a big headache. And moreover, what are we going to do about basic necessities like milk?” asks Pravin.
#All views expressed in this article are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
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