Maharashtra to implement plastic ban in phases | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Maharashtra to implement plastic ban in phases

The state has decided to exempt milk pouches, PET bottles, garbage bags and some other plastic products from the ban

mumbai Updated: Mar 17, 2018 12:33 IST
Faisal Malik
The plastic ban will be implemented from March 18.
The plastic ban will be implemented from March 18.(HT File (Representational Image))

With questions being raised over the effectiveness of the ban on plastic bags and several other one-time use plastic products, the Maharashtra government has decided to implement its decision in phases. It also decided to exempt milk pouches, PET bottles, garbage bags and some other plastic products from the ban. The thrust would be on banning one-time use plastic such as carry bags and cutlery.

The government has also introduced a scheme to promote collection of used bottles. Under this scheme, you have to pay Re1 extra to buy a mineral bottle as refundable recycling charge which will be refunded if the bottle is returned to the shopkeeper. This will be followed for milk pouches also. Consumers will have to pay 50 paise per milk pouch, which will be refunded if it is returned to the shopkeeper.

Significantly, although environment minister Ramdas Kadam on Friday said the ban would come into effect from March 18, the administration was not sure about the exact date.

After announcing the ban on all plastic bags, irrespective of their thickness and disposable cutlery items made of plastic and thermocol, the state government on Friday said they have also decided to ban non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic sheets, plastic pouches and all kinds of plastic films in Maharashtra. However, plastic used for packing and packaging products has been exempted from the ban. Kadam said the ban will be implemented from March 18, at the auspicious occasion of Gudi Padwa, the beginning of the new year, according to the Hindu calender. However, officials are unsure if they will be able to issue a notification to this effect in the next two days.

“The final notification on the ban is not ready yet. We are still working on finalising the modalities. Thus, won’t be able to say that the notification will be issued by March 18,” a senior official from the environment department said.

With the decision, manufacturing, use, storing, distribution, wholesale and retail sale, import and transportation of all kinds of plastic bags (with or without handle), disposable cutlery items made of plastic and thermocol — plates, cups, glass, bowls, forks, spoons, straw, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic sheets, plastic pouches and all kinds of plastic films have been banned across the state, said the environment minister. The administration is yet to decide what would be banned in the next phases. The government has also formed an empowered committee headed by environment minister that would further decide what other items could be banned or taken up for banning in a phased manner.

An environment department official said they are yet to take a decision on plastic containers that are used for food parcels and other services. It will be clear when the notification is issued, he said.

HT was the first to report on January 12 that the government is planning to bring such a ban from March.

The government has decided to exempt plastic being used as integral part for packaging of a product as well as that being used for medicines, solid waste management and agriculture products. It also means garbage bags will not be banned. It has exempted all plastic sheets and covers being used in plant nurseries, milk pouches of more than 50 microns and PET bottles. The manufacturers of PET bottles have been asked to set up recycling units in the next three months and start a deposit scheme to promote recollection of bottles.

Offenders will be fined Rs5,000 and Rs10,000 respectively for first and second time offence, respectively. A third-time offender will be fined Rs25,000 and three-months imprisonment. The government has also decided to empower elected representatives and non-government organisations (NGOs) to file complain against violation of the ban to the police, he added.

In urban areas, the ban is going to be implemented by the municipal bodies, while in rural areas it will be implemented by the district administration.

The ban is an extension to the ban on plastic carry bags of below 50 microns imposed in 2006 after Mumbai deluge. The government has realised that the 2006 ban on plastic carry-bags of up to 50 microns was not helping it prevent the clogging of drains.

Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, who, according to Kadam has played important role in bringing the ban, said earlier the focus of the ban was only on sale and distribution of plastic bags below 50 microns. This time, the government has brought the ban of manufacturing of plastic bags and other items. “People won’t use plastic bags if they are not available at the first place,” he said.

Manufacturers are not happy with the developments and planning to approach the courts.

Ravi Jashnani, president Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association said they will try to convince the government to work on alternatives instead of banning the manufacturing. “We are not very hopeful that the government will listen to us. In the case the last option left with us is to go to the court,” Jashnani said. There are around 10,000 manufacturing units that are going to be affected with the move that includes, manufacturing, printing and other related units.