Starting from the Marathi Hindu new year of Gudi Padwa this year, the state government has proposed the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (manufacture, usage, sale, transport, handling and storage) notification, banning the use of plastic products and thermocol across the state.
What is the ban about?
From March 23, 2018, there has been an effective ban on manufacture, usage, sale, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale and storage, import of plastic bags with or without handle, and disposable products made out of plastic and thermocol in Maharashtra.
Which products will be covered under the ban?
Products manufactured from plastic and thermocol (polystyrene) like disposable dish or bowl, cups, plates, glasses, fork, spoons, containers, straw, non-woven polypropene bags, pouches, all of which are commonly used for packaging food items including liquids and food grains or to wrap or store products safely, will no longer be permitted to be used in the state.
Which products are not banned?
Plastic bags or plastic material used for packaging medicines and drugs have been exempted from this ban. Similarly, food grade virgin plastic bags for packaging milk, bags of thickness less than 50 microns have been permitted to remain in use. However, the manufacturers of these milk pouches, will now on, have to mandatorily print the buy-back price of not less than 50 paise on them, aimed at promoting recycling system in the society. Apart from this, the government is encouraging and permitting the use of compostable packaging bags usually used to store plants which are used in nurseries, for horticulture and agriculture purposes. Manufacturers of these eco-friendly bags would have to specifically print ‘use exclusively for special purpose only’ after obtaining clearance of the Central pollution Control Board (CPCB).
How can these banned plastic bags be returned?
The state government has estimated it will take a period of three months, by June 2018, to set up a collection mechanism, where all these products will be collected at one place for further safe disposal treatments. While this project is in its initial phases, by June-end, it is supposed to be operational in multiple centres. Once the system is set up and made operational, used plastic bags and milk pouches will be routinely collected either by milk dairies, retail sellers, traders or shopkeepers. They will buy these used bags at a buyback amount printed on the respective bags. Alternatively, the government has asked milk dairies and manufacturers in the state to supply milk in glass bottles or other environment-friendly packaging products.
Until when can the banned products be returned?
The government has laid down a time period of one month for the return of banned products from the date the regulation came into effect: March 23, 2018. Accordingly, all these banned items need to be either sold outside the state, sold to authorised recyclers or industries dealing in safe disposals, or handed over to the local body within one month. In short, individual custodians of these banned products, manufacturers or producers of plastic items, sellers, retailers and traders need to check out the most feasible option for safe disposal. In order to carry out this mammoth task, the state government has ordered all local bodies to arrange for collection and transportation of these banned products or plastic waste to either authorised recyclers or industries involved in scientific disposal during the one-month period since the ban was imposed.
Who will implement and monitor the ban?
Officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and district and local administration have been authorised to implement it. For regulating this law at tourist locations, tourism police, or Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has been made responsible.