The plastic bag is running out of places in Delhi. The latest to say no are its long-standing patrons — suppliers and shopkeepers.
Sensing that the future lies in non-plastic bags, suppliers have started selling bags made of jute, paper and non-woven material at local grocery stores. And local shopkeepers are only too eager to play ball.
"Unlike plastic bags, we cannot give out non-plastic bags for free because they are costly. So we are keeping these (alternate) bags for sale. It's a nice little extra business," said Mahesh Chand Gupta, owner of Gupta Dairy in Janak Puri.
Since these bags do not have any printed price, intermediary suppliers are selling them at minimum margin to grocery stores and local vegetable vendors, who are giving them out to customers with a margin between Rs 1 and 2. The MRP is only Rs 10 at most places.
Revolution of sorts
Ravi Kumar, a plastic bag supplier at Indira Market in RK Puram has not ordered new stock. Instead, he is weighing options to sell paper and cloth bags. "Grocers have said they would try out paper bags, and will even give them for free to big buyers. Fish and meat sellers have volunteered to try and sell cloth bags," said Kumar who has taken quotation from Nari Utthan Samity, which makes cloth bags.
The Samity, where women make cloth bags for sale, has given price quotations to countless suppliers and wholesalers in the past three weeks. "All are interested in bulk supply. While we cannot increase production significantly because our bags are handmade and we need more trained staff, we can supply to a few large stockists," said Santosh Kumar, head of the Samity.
Non-woven bags, which are made of fabric sheets and a polypropylene byproduct, are the biggest hit so far. "After supplying to big retailers in CP and South Extension, we now want to get into the supply part ourselves by reaching out to grocery shops. It's a big market," said Kamal K., owner of Delhi Packaging Private Limited, makers of non-woven bags based in North Delhi.