MORE THAN a week after the state government issued a notification banning single-use plastic items including bags and PET bottles, following representations from various industries that use plastic for secondary packaging of products, the government said it would set up a committee to look into various groups’ issues and objections regarding the ban. On March 23, the government issued a notification banning plastic bags of all thickness, disposable plates and cutlery, food packaging and dozens of other items.
Though the ban proposes fines ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000, these are not to be implemented immediately with the government ordering a one-month window for consumers, traders and manufacturers to comply. Over the past couple of days, several organisations and groups including grain dealers, clothing manufacturers and imitation jewellery dealers, met Minister for Environment Ramdas Kadam with their grievances against the plastic ban, and sought solutions.
Kadam has promised these associations that the state government will form a committee comprising ten members including representatives of various associations to look into the challenges of implementing the ban and to come up with alternatives. “For half a kg or one kg, we can use paper bags but it is difficult to use paper bags for small quantities such as 10 grams or 50 grams of spices. It will also be a huge problem during the monsoon,” said Ramnik Cheddha, president of Bombay Grain Dealers Association. Rajesh Masand, chairman of the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, said the plastic bags used for readymade garments packaging is to ensure that clothes are not damaged by dust.
“The plastic ban notification says that plastic bags can be used for export. But where would I get the plastic if its production is banned in the state? How can we run our businesses?” asked Masand. The Edible Oil Dealers Association said that the plastic ban would shut down their industry. “As per the Food Safety and Standards Rules 2011, we can’t sell loose oil in the market and can’t reuse the tins. So we switched to plastic material such as pouches and cans. With the ban on these, our industry will close down and the consumers will be badly affected by it,” said Shankar Thakkar, president of the association.
Jitendra Janani, president of the Raw Material for Imitation Jewellery Association said, “In our business, we have to display our items, and that can be done by using transparent plastic bags. We can’t show the materials in the paper bags as there will be no visibility.” Meanwhile, the government also clarified that the depository scheme is not restricted to plastic water bottles but to all beverages in plastic bottles ‘having liquid holding capacity’ of 0.5 litre and 1 litre. This would include aerated drinks and other beverages.
Officials from the Environment Department said that there is complete 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. Besides, the depository scheme of Rs 1 for 1 litre bottle and Rs 2 for 0.5 litre bottle is applicable to all beverages and not only to water bottles.
“The notification clearly states ‘bottles having liquid holding capacity’, which includes all beverages in plastic bottles and not just water bottles. The rules of depository schemes and ban on the production of less than 0.5 litre is applicable to all plastic bottles,” said DR BN Patil, director of Environment Department.
Another official said that plastic used for primary packaging or at the manufacturing level is exempted. “The plastic used at the manufacturing level for Lijjat Papad, Hot Chips or Kurkure, etc, is not banned. The plastic used for secondary level or by retailers or traders is banned. Banning the plastic at the manufacturing level will create havoc. So, we have excluded the manufacturing level from the ban,” explained the official. However, the plastic water bottle manufacturers’ association has met Kadam with the demand that the complete ban on bottles with capacity less than 0.5 litre be revoked and they also be covered under the depository scheme.