Don’t be surprised if most common plastic items you encounter become a thing of the past soon – at least in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra is all set to order a new and improved plastic ban that is expected to come into effect this Gudi Padwa, i.e. March 18, 2018.
The state cabinet passed the plastic ban proposal on Thursday, which specifically strikes down on the manufacture and sale of these three common plastic items including bags, straws and disposable plastic cutlery like spoons, cups and plates.
Here’s all you need to know:
The groups likely to be hit this ban include manufacturers of plastic bags, straws and disposable plastic cutlery, and retailers, restaurants and food outlets with takeaway food services.
The proposed fine for violators will range anywhere up to Rs 5,000 for individuals and Rs 50,000 for institutions and three-month imprisonment.
Some items that are exempted from this ban include plastic or tetra packs used to package milk and water. One prime reason for this exclusion is an expected hike in prices of these products and also because the state is low on the production of glass bottles for packaging the volume of these products at the moment.
The exemption also applies to plastic containers and sachets used to package grains, pulses and other goods.
It is likely that all shopkeepers in the state will soon be asked to submit an undertaking to the local civic bodies that they will refrain from using plastic bags, which will also become a condition in the new license. The violation of which will result in the cancellation of their license, one of the senior officials told the Mumbai Mirror.
It is also important to note that local bodies will penalise all individuals carrying plastic carry bags, notwithstanding the microns.
Important points to consider
This certainly isn’t the first time; a plastic ban has been ordered in the state. The infamous 2005 deluge brought to light the repercussions of increasing plastic use, as plastic-clogged drains flooded the entire city.
At the time, a ban was issued on bags up to 50 microns. But the change hardly reflected on the ground.
One of the most important reasons for this was also the lack of awareness of the ban and lack of low-cost alternatives available for the general public.
Recently a survey conducted by 50 St. Xavier’s College students in association with eco-group GreenLine in 525 shops ranging from small, big as well as street-vendor run spaces revealed that 43% of shopkeepers were unaware of the ban.
The results of the survey carried in the Hindustan Times also revealed: Of the shopkeepers who knew about the ban, over 51% had no alternative planned to plastic carry bags, while 93% stated there was no help from the state government in providing any alternatives to plastic bags.
Many of the shopkeepers expressed that despite the prior ban the use of plastic carry bags continued as many of the customers wouldn’t carry their own bags, while others refuse to buy products if plastic bags were not supplied.
While the current ban that is set to happen is a step forward, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, as well as the local civic bodies, which are the executing authorities on the ground, will have to join forces to create more awareness.
As citizens, the least we can do is co-operate with the government by making smaller changes in our everyday lives like carrying a cloth-bag or other eco-friendly alternatives on trips to the grocery or retail stores, shopping sprees etc.
Until then let’s hope that the new year, truly brings an eco-friendly change in the lives of Maharashtrians.