On 23 June 2018, the Maharashtra government imposed a blanket ban on single-use plastic across the state.
A notification regarding the ban had been circulated three months ago, giving the residents of the state, enough time to find alternatives for the plastic items they use in their daily lives. More importantly, it gave businesses a chance to find more eco-friendly alternatives for the plastic they use in packaging.
The Better India has written a detailed article about how the ban will be imposed across Maharashtra. You can read it here.
While some people are applauding this bold move by the government, and are taking the ban in a very positive light and adapting to the new rules, there are some who believe that the time given between the notification and imposition was not enough.
The food industry, for example, is especially unhappy with the ban because of its high reliance on plastic.
For example, imagine a takeaway order or even ordering-in at home, without using plastic packaging. Seems impossible, right?
Your food is packed in thermocol or plastic containers—sometimes each element is even packed separately—and then the delivery person or the restaurant hands over your order in a polythene bag. We have become so used to this that we hardly give a second thought to the amount of plastic we are using in one single meal.
A plastic ban would potentially mean that takeaways and home-delivered food are a thing of past—at least till we find a viable solution. In fact, according to reports, delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy have already stopped working in some places, like Pune, in Maharashtra.
However, this Pune restaurant has smoothly adapted itself to support the plastic ban while also ensuring that its customers do not suffer much.
A restaurant in Pune has started delivering food in steel lunch boxes after plastic ban in Maharashtra, customers are asked to return boxes after delivery. Those who order ‘take away’ food at the restaurant are asked to deposit Rs 200 which will be reimbursed on returning the box pic.twitter.com/iufjyxwKqJ
— ANI (@ANI) June 25, 2018
The restaurant has started giving takeaway orders to their customers in steel lunch boxes, against a deposit of Rs 200. As soon as the customer returns the box, the money will be returned to them.
This is a great move, as steel boxes are a much healthier option for food storage, they keep the food warm for a considerable amount of time and are obviously reusable.
Ganesh Shetty, the owner of the Pune restaurant, told ANI, “We welcome the state government’s decision to ban plastic in the state as it’s in favour of the environment.”
It is currently unclear as to whether the restaurant will provide a delivery option, whether the customers have to go back to the restaurant to hand over the lunch box or whether the restaurant will provide a pick-up service.
However, the solutions to these issues will be brought to action with time.
Elaborating on how the ban isn’t easy for everyone, Ganesh said, “The government should have provided us some more time to arrange an alternative. Apps like Zomato and Swiggy have stopped working due to lack of delivery options. Customers are also facing an inconvenience.”
However, it is entirely possible that since the ban has been imposed and there is no going back, people and businesses will start hunting for eco-friendly solutions. The stakes are high, after all. It is not just a question of fines anymore but that of contributing to the plastic pollution by tonnes, every day.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)