The union government’s ban on plastic carry bags has had little effect in Delhi, Chandigarh, and Sikkim, revealed a study released on Tuesday.
A Toxic Link report - ‘Plastics and the Environment: Assessing the Impact of the Complete Ban on Plastic Carry Bags’ - shed light on the unbridled use of plastic by shopkeepers, street vendors, and even homeowners, resulting in rampant littering and subsequent environmental problems.
“Plastic bag littering is a big urban phenomenon, which leads to big environmental problem. It not just clogs drains and urban sewage system, but also fills up the landfill spaces, leading to toxic elements, such as lead and cadmium pigments leaching into the underground water,” said Priti Mahesh, chief programme coordinator at Toxic Link, an environmental research and advocacy organisation.
The study that drew samples from the three cities sought to check compliance of plastic bag ban, reasons for success and failures and provided recommendations for improving the compliance.
“In India 4 million tonnes of plastic is used annually; with plastic or polythene bags being a major part. The toxic constituents and non-biodegradable nature of plastic bags make these visibly one of the most serious concerns for the environment,” said a release by Toxic Link.
The study also found that the non-woven bags which are being used as alternative are also actually plastic bags and come under the preview of the ban.
However, the study observed that about 80% of the vendors that were surveyed along with 70% of the consumers were aware of the ill effects of plastics.
Speaking to HT, Chandigarh deputy commissioner Mohammed Shayin said in the past six months, they had destroyed 18 quintals of plastic in the city. “Though we were slow in conducting the drives in the beginning of the year, we carried out a large number of drives in the past six months. We have formed three teams, each led by sub-divisional magistrates, and are trying our level best to put a complete ban on use of plastic bags,” he added.
The union government banned the usage of plastic bags with thickness less than 40 microns. Similarly, the Delhi government issued a notification for a blanket ban on the use of all kinds of plastic bags in 2012, the release said.