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After bags, Govt wants plastic wrappers banned

india Updated: Jan 14, 2009 22:48 IST
Avishek G. Dastidar
Avishek G. Dastidar
Hindustan Times
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, January 14

After banning plastic bags in the Capital, Delhi now wants to curb the menace of small laminated plastic packs used in products like tobacco, snacks and such tid-bits, adding to the waste stream significantly and polluting the environment.

The Delhi government has written to the Centre, seeking a check on products using laminated plastic wrappings at the manufacturing stage. Most of the products, such as tobacco, gutkha, etc, are not produced in Delhi, hence outside the city government's jurisdiction.

"We have written to the Ministry of Environment and Forests to take up the issue at the Centre. Use of products like gutkha is so huge in volume they add an immense amount of plastic daily to the environment. If not checked, they may defeat the purpose of the plastic bag ban," said a senior official.

What makes small plastic packs and wrappers hazardous to the environment is their uselessness to the ragpicker and the recycling industry.

"Since such packets cannot be used in recycling, unlike thick plastic bags, ragpickers do not collect them and the recyclist does not care about them. They just keep clogging the solid waste stream," said Ravi Agarwal of non-governmental organis ation (NGO) Toxics Link. "Fifty per cent of all plastic used is in packaging," he said.

At the court battle, laminated pouches had come up in arguments several times with the court-appointed committee seeking a ban on them.

The committee had representations from Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Central Pollution Control Board and other stakeholders.

"The court had on record praised this recommendation saying it should be implemented. If Delhi government cannot control the manufacturing stage of the products that use laminated pouches, then they can at least ban their use here," said Vinod Jain, petitioner in the PIL that led to the ban.

According to the government, the estimated volume of small plastic pouches being released in the environment as waste could be larger than the volume of plastic bags discarded every day.