AS CHANDIGARH went plastic-free from Wednesday, banning all single-use plastic items, Newsline went around the city to take a stock of the ground situation in the city markets.
In the first instance, most traders in the markets were not aware of all the items that have been banned with immediate effect and only knew about the ban on polythene bags and disposable plastic glasses, cups or plates.
Despite that, the markets have seen a considerable impact after stringent rules about plastic usage were put in place. Using plastic can cause imprisonment and invite hefty fines.
Thick paper straws are being used in coffee shops and eateries. Plastic sachets used by pizza houses have also been replaced with paper sachets post the ban.
At the grain market in Sector 26, certain vendors continue to use polythene. Some, however, have taken cognizance of the ban and started giving fruits and vegetables in carry bags made out of newspapers.
Anil Vohra, president of the Chandigarh Beopar mandal stated that there is a fear among traders. He added that it would have been best if a proper substitute was made immediately available, at a same nominal cost. “I feel that traders should not be harassed. In the first place, there should be proper awareness most of them don’t even know what all is banned and what all is permitted. We have also asked our market presidents to carry out an awareness at their own level in markets,” Vohra said.
The president added, “If things are banned, there should also be a substitute immediately. When a trader gives something worth Rs 50 to a customer, how can he afford a carry bag worth Rs 3 or 4 on each item. It is not feasible.”
Vinod Sharma, a trader in Sector 22 said that they have started asking their customers to bring their own carry bags. “I run a small confectionary shop. I can not afford the other bags. As of now I am just using the newspaper bags but they get torn soon,” he said.
Raj Kumar, a vendor in the grain market said that “alternatives, like cloth or jute bags, are really expensive…we can’t afford to give a carry bag of Rs 4 to Rs 6 each to every buyer. We are small vendors and that is why we use these plastic carry bags,” he said.
Vendors added that even 100 per cent compostable bags were expensive and unaffordable for most. “But as of now, the supply is shut. So we are using the old stock,” a vendor said on the condition of anonymity. At one kg rate, traders get 150 pieces of 100 per cent compostable bags, whereas at the same rate, 500 pieces of plastic bags are available.
Verka to continue with plastic milk pouches, bans plastic spoons
PUNJAB MILKFED will continue to use polythene pouches for milk products. Following the move, Verka, one of the biggest stakeholders in milk and milk products in the region got a major relief. However, Verka banned the plastic spoons which were given with packs of Kheer from October 1 onwards.
Verka’s General Manager Sukhdeep Singh Gill, told Chandigarh Newsline that they received a letter from the environmental ministry, telling them that the polythene pouches used for the sale of milk, could be used. “The pouches are of more than 50 micron thickness. Plastic of lesser than 50 microns has been banned. We use high quality polythene for storing milk, curd and other projects, but we have banned the single use plastic spoons which were given with Kheer boxes,” he said.
Gill added that all dairy boards in the country were exempted from banning the milk pouches. He informed that pouches made for storing milk are made of plastic with a thickness of 56 microns.
Asked about the milk production, S S Gill said that Verka produces for 10 to 12 lakh milk pouches every day and the sale of milk in the Tricity is around five lakh liters a day.
“The consumption of Kheer is between 3,500 to 4,500 kg in the Tricity. Since Verka is a major stakeholder, as far as the use of plastic is concerned, the government’s decision to allow the plastic of more than 50 micron thickness is a major relief to us,” Gill stated.
Gill also said that Verka had long ago started selling tetra packs of milk which are sent to Ladakh for the consumption of the Indian Army.