Gurgaon still struggling to enforce ban on plastic bags | gurgaon | Hindustan Times
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Gurgaon still struggling to enforce ban on plastic bags

The ban by the tribunal revolves around the logic that it is not possible to recycle the plastic bags below 50 microns in thickness. However, those above 50 microns could be used. However, a question that has often been raised is how are dealers or consumers to assess if a plastic carry bag is above or below the permissible level of thickness?

gurgaon Updated: Aug 13, 2017 22:33 IST
Ipsita Pati
The ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags was imposed under the Environment Protection Act 1986, Section 15 (1).
The ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags was imposed under the Environment Protection Act 1986, Section 15 (1).(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

While the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday imposed an interim ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags less than 50 microns in Delhi, Gurgaon is still trying hard to enforce the already existing ban that was announced by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) in 2015.

The ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags was imposed under the Environment Protection Act 1986, Section 15 (1).

However, the ban imposed by the NGT on Thursday was termed ‘business as usual’ by environment activists. They urged the government should do more to raise general awareness on the harmful effects of using plastic bags and force residents to discard them.

The ban by the tribunal revolves around the logic that it is not possible to recycle the plastic bags below 50 microns in thickness. However, those above 50 microns could be used. However, a question that has often been raised is how are dealers or consumers to assess if a plastic carry bag is above or below the permissible level of thickness?

“Only 9% of the plastic bags are recycled across the entire world. Plastic bags are often littered randomly and they clog drains and block sewer lines. Lack of an effective disposal mechanism has a serious environmental impact and poses health risks as well. Just banning use of plastic bags will not serve any purpose. What we need more is public awareness on the risks associated with the use of plastic bags and segregation of waste,” Bharti Chaturvedi, director of Chintan, an NGO and member of Environmental Research and Action Group, said.

While the country presently recycles 80% of the plastic bags it produces, it’s water bodies and drains are still chocked with used polythene carry bags. The biggest problem lies with the processed food packets, covers of food packets and plastic envelopes which carry detergent power, food and other items that never gets recycled, the experts said.

“Plastic bags are a significant component of residential domestic waste. It increases the volume of waste that every household generate and makes it harder to segregate and process the same. When such waste reaches the landfill sites and get burnt, harmful toxins are emitted. The city needs proper collection and recycling of plastic waste,” Chetan Aggarwal, an environmentalist, said.

The experts also called for proper implementation of the ban, as the burning of plastic waste adds to the level of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air. “In Gurgaon, 40% of the waste burned in the open comprises plastic bags. This explains why the city suffers from poor air quality,” JB Sharma, regional officer, Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), said.

PM2.5 is suspended particulate matter, which is 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter and is a major component of what constitutes air pollution.It could even settle in the lungs and lead to asthma and other respiratory problems.

According to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), the high level of PM2.5 is estimated to reduce life expectancy in the European Union by more than eight months. The permissible limit of PM 2.5 is 60 µg/m³.