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Plastic banned,street kids hit bull’s eye with jute bags

In 2004,a group of street children and ragpickers got together to make bags from scrap cloth and jute.

Written by Neha Sinha | New Delhi |
January 27, 2009 12:57:21 am

In 2004,a group of street children and ragpickers got together to make bags from scrap cloth and jute. Now,following a ban on plastic bags,the jute bags made by their organisation Lakhshya Badhte Kadam might just have hit the bull’s eye.

Ramesh,from the organisation,says the first orders have begun trickling in. “We have received requests to make cheap jute bags and newspaper bags for shopkeepers in Hauz Khas and Janpath,” he says. “We employ young adults,who may have run away from home,and economically deprived women.

Ramesh says all products are handmade at present but “we can create machinery if there’s more demand. For now,we are selling through the Denmark embassy and to the Jaipur Literature Festival; we also sell our bags to agencies in England

Ramesh says paper bags,with newspapers layered and stuck together and threaded with a rope handle,cost Rs 4 onwards. For jute bags,the raw material comes from Sadar Bazaar — they are laced with secondhand sarees to make colourful bags that start from Rs 15,he says.

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As another alternative,Sweccha,an NGO working with environmental advocacy and awareness,is now experimenting with bags made from flex,the material used to paint banners. “We are in talks with corporate bodies to donate their flex so we can make bags from them. The idea is to recycle,” Vimlendu Jha from Sweccha says.

Greenforum,a self-help group making jute bags that sells from a Delhi government-run outlet in Dilli Haat,has meanwhile made several sales deals.

Delhi’s Environment Secretary J K Dadoo says many traders and plastic manufacturers approached the department since the ban was enforced to source alternative bags. “The demand has been created and we now expect manufacturers to cater to that,” Dadoo says.

Meanwhile,some plastic manufacturers,apprehensive of losing business,are planning to move court against the ban. “The problem is not the product (plastic) but the litter,” says OP Ratra from Plastic Chintak. “The government now also allows biodegradable bags with no recyclable value — this will create more pollution.

“We are now considering the option of moving court.”

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