The Delhi government has set a November 24 deadline for the enforcement of a blanket ban on the manufacture, import, sale, storage and use of plastic carrybags, sheets, films or tubs — irrespective of their thickness.
Without any feasible alternative in sight, the order also bans plastic sheets used to line dust bins. But the ban will not affect the use of plastic carrybags specified under the bio-medical waste (management and handling), rules, 1998.
Plastic used to pack food products such as milk and flour bags — in which goods are sealed prior to use — will be allowed.
“The state cabinet passed the ban order on September 11 and the government notified it on October 23. A copy of the notification has been uploaded on the government’s environment department website. Enforcement has to begin a month after the date of notification,” said a top government official, who is part of a team authorised to enforce the ban.
OP Ratra, who was a member of the national plastic waste management task force of the ministry of environment and forests (1996-97), said, “There are about 1,000 big units in Delhi that manufacture plastic carrybags of various types. The ban will hit about 50,000 people working at these units.”
Praveen Khandelwal of the Confederation of All India Traders’ Association said, “If we put together units of all sizes, the number is around 4,500 and if we include people involved in distribution and supply, about 2.5 lakh will lose jobs because of this ban.”
While Ratra, who represents the plastic lobby, says use of plastic is not harmful if it is recycled properly and not littered, Khandelwal says the government must provide an alternative.
“We have launched a campaign to promote alternatives such as jute, cloth and recycled paper bags. Starch-based compostable material (confirming to biodegradability tests as per IS 17088 Standard) may be used for making carrybags as a substitute to plastic,” said another senior government official.
“We’re providing people with a list of alternative bag manufacturing units and specification for biodegradable plastic bags,” he said.