Very soon, your daily addictions such as potato chips to paan masala will stop coming in colourful, multi-layered and laminated plastic packets and pouches. They are about to be banned in India.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has drawn up rules to ban all plastic bags, including containers and laminated packs. And plastic manufacturers and sellers have been given 60 days to file their reaction to this proposal.
What makes plastic packs and wrappers hazardous to environment? The Central Pollution Control Board says since they cannot be recycled, the sheer volume of solid waste keeps growing and affects the environment.
Dr AB Akolkar, director, Central Pollution Control Board, said, “Unlike the thick plastic bags, ragpickers do not collect these plastic packs.”
But Ravi K Aggarwal, president of All India Plastic Industries Association, said, “There is no scientific basis to these rules. World over, these plastic packs are incinerated. Plastic only forms 5 per cent of the solid waste.”
“The ban is certain. A technical committee studied the matter and recommended the changes in the rules to ban these items,” said a senior ministry official, who did not wish to be named. He said, “A Delhi High Court committee on plastic bags, too, had recommended such steps.”
The industry is yet to come out with a viable alternative. “It will have a big impact on the industry,” said Bhavna Sood, spokesperson for DS Group, makers of a leading brand of paan masala, non-tobacco mouth-fresher, scented tobacco and spices.
She said, “We are sure the government will give the industry time to make the shift to other forms of packaging.”
The industry has been trying out small packets made of cardboards and other non-plastic materials. But in smaller packs, such packaging materials do not work.