TEN DAYS after the state government issued a notification banning various single-use plastic item, the first rollback came on Tuesday with an announcement that the complete ban on plastic bottles with a capacity lower than 0.5 litre will now be reversed. Instead, like larger PET bottles, these too will now be brought under a depository scheme whereby consumers buying them will pay a deposit refundable upon returning the bottle for recycling.
Sources in the government said that a delegation of manufacturers of plastic water bottles met Minister for Environment Ramdas Kadam last week with the demand. “The Plastic Bottles Manufacturers’ Association met us saying they will ensure a proper buyback mechanism for smaller bottles too. They also suggested that we could impose higher penalties if they don’t put in place a buyback mechanism. Our major concern is non-collection of the plastic bottles that needs to be addressed. As the association has assured us that it will have a proper buyback mechanism, we have decided to remove the ban on it and include such bottles under the depository scheme,” Kadam told The Indian Express.
Sources also said that the association has agreed to take responsibility for the collection and recycling of bottles from the organised sector including hotels, hospitals and also housing societies, and other bulk consumers. The association has also agreed to install 1,000 bottle crusher machines across the state, said officials.
State government officials said an amendment in the notification would have to be issued to reverse the complete ban on PET bottles with a capacity of less than 0.5 litre.
As per the notification issued by the state Environment Department on March 23, there is a ban on the usage, purchase, sale, distribution and storage of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene terephthalate esters (PETE) ‘bottles having liquid holding capacity’ less than 0.5 litre in the state. Other bottles, including water bottles and all other beverage bottles, were to be under a depository scheme of Re 1 for 1 litre bottle and Rs 2 for 0.5 litre bottles .
However, various associations including those representing grain dealers, clothing manufacturers, edible oil dealers, suppliers of raw material for imitation jewellery, etc have demanded that the depository scheme for milk pouches be extended to other commodities too. “We have urged the state government to treat essential items such as foodgrain, food items such as fruits and vegetables and oil at par with milk, and extend a depository scheme for these items as well. Otherwise, it will inconvenience a lot of people,” said Neemit Punamiya, general secretary of the Plastic Bag Manufacturers Association of India.
The industry organisations have also demanded that they should be allowed to use the plastic until alternatives are available in the market. “We have sought a waiver on the ban on plastic packaging material until alternatives are identified and made available,” said Lalit Gandhi, vice-president of Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce and Industry, adding that the ban is impacting many industries across the state.