India is waking up to the numerous issues associated with the usage of plastic and is leading the fight against it with full force.
Several states have already taken the first step in the fight by banning single-use plastics. Not to be left behind, Tamil Nadu, too, has declared a complete ban on plastics starting January 2019.
With just six months left for this green leap, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Edappadi Palaniswami said, “The ban will be primarily on plastic carry bags, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic flags, small plastic sachets used in packaging water, among others.” However, acknowledging the fact that a blanket ban on plastic might not be plausible, he added, “A few plastic materials used for packing milk, curd, oil and medicines have been exempted from the ban.”
How is Tamil Nadu preparing for the plastic ban? And what does it plan to do in the coming days?
Here is a list of 10 initiatives by the government, NGOs and citizens, which aims to curb the use of plastic.
1. According to K Vijayakarthikeyan, the Coimbatore Corporation Commissioner, it all started with the ‘My Shopping, My Bag’ campaign more than a year ago, where the civic body in association with NGOs approached commercial establishments to switch over to paper cloth bags while shopping. With the success of this initiative, the government understood that big establishments like shopping malls, restaurants and hotels will be an excellent start to this plastic ban. After all, if your favourite shopping mall says they are going green, you are likely to follow in their footsteps, right?
2. Next came the restriction on the plastic used in food chains. When the Coimbatore corporation approached a popular chain of restaurants and a sweet shop with this proposal, it was welcomed with open arms. They started using eco-alternatives to plastics in packaging their food.
3. The Coimbatore Forest Department did not lose time in stepping up either.
Plastic is especially dangerous near forests where they can get lost in the wilderness and pile up over time, or get mixed in the food meant for animals.
So, plastic products are banned near Kovai Courtallam, a popular tourist spot.
4. Plastic products that cannot be recycled or upcycled have found a new home—cement factories! By ‘co-processing’ the non-recyclable plastic, it is used by the factories as fuel. A few cement companies in Tamil Nadu have tied up with municipal corporations to collect plastic waste and reuse them as fuels by burning them at a high temperature. This process also doesn’t release any toxins. According to The Hindu, about 10,000 tonnes of plastic has been used in the last four months, reducing the factories’ reliance on coal for fuel.
5. With the vision of providing citizens with an alternative for plastic bags, the Salem Corporation has been promoting tapioca starch bags—eco-friendly bags that disintegrate within 90 days. It has also collaborated with a women’s collective called the ‘Wonder Women,’ to promote the use of cloth bags.
6. Kancheepuram does not want to wait for 6 months to curb its plastic ban. Starting August 16, if you happen to dispose of non-recyclable plastic in the district, you are likely to attract a hefty fine for it.
So you can either dispose of all the one-time plastic you have before the scheduled date or find good eco-alternatives to do that after.
7. Schoolgirls in Thootukudi have shown their disappointment in plastic packaging by giving over 20,000 wrappers back to the manufacturers. “We are happy with the taste and quality of your products, but unhappy with the plastic packaging. We want to ensure a safe environment for our future generations and minimise our plastic footprint,” they said.
You can read the whole story about these inspirational girls here.
8. The Salem Corporation instructed Central and State government officials, government hospitals, urban primary health centres and educational institutions in the city to stop using unnecessary plastic products like plastic bags from July 1, 2018.
9. The Salem Corporation has also imposed a ban on single-time-use plastic on three bus terminals from early July 2018.
10. The Small Steps project—an initiative to provide cost-effective alternatives to plastic bags—has been operating in Auroville, near Puducherry since 2007! “It is not only about replacing plastic bags. It is also about changing ourselves, learning new values, taking responsibility, loving our mother earth, thus making for a better world. It is our love in action,” Vidhi Bhargav, the coordinator of Small Steps told The Hindu.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)