Shopkeepers use plastic bags after the statewide ban in Bandra.(HT Photo)
Shopkeepers use plastic bags after the statewide ban in Bandra.(HT Photo)

Still carrying plastic bags in Mumbai? Get ready to pay a fine

So far, the implementing authorities were avoiding taking action against individuals found violating the directives
By Faisal Malik | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON OCT 02, 2018 02:32 PM IST

Starting this week, you will have to pay a fine for carrying plastic bags or other banned items, as the Maharashtra government has decided to start strict implementation of the ban.

The state on March 23 imposed a ban on plastic bags and one-time use disposable products made up of plastic and thermocol. However, the ban was revised thrice in the past six months. Currently, it includes non-recyclable multi-layered packaging (MLP) used by fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms, tetra packs being used by firms for packaging various liquid and semi-liquid food items and PET bottles less than 200ml being used for serving drinking water.

So far, the implementing authorities were avoiding taking action against individuals found violating the directives, but the government now feels people have been given enough time to dispose of banned items. The state will also start action against the e-commerce industry, if found using plastic packaging for delivering online orders.

In its last notification issued on July 2, the state environment department had set a three-month deadline for FMCG companies to follow the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) that mandates collection and disposal of wrappers and packets. It has also directed the e-commerce industry to introduce eco-friendly alternative to plastic in the next few months in order to continue their business. The deadline ended on Monday.

“Based on the government’s directives, the implementing authorities were not taking action against individuals. We have decided to start its implementation in letter and spirit. So now, individuals will have to face punitive action for violating the ban. The directive will be sent to all local bodies and other implementing agencies,” said Anil Diggikar, principal secretary, state environment department.

The e-commerce industry recently sought an extension of six months from the state to give alternative to plastic. The issue was also discussed in the meeting of the expert committee formed by the state cabinet to discuss issues related to plastic ban, said a senior official from the environment department. Diggikar said they have decided not to give any extension.

Also, 30 FMCG companies have formed a consortium called Producers’ Responsibility Organisation (PRO) and prepared a joint EPR, which was submitted to MPCB last week. According to the EPR, these companies will ensure collection, segregation and disposal of their waste wrappers, packets and sachets by setting up an independent mechanism, said an official.

Meanwhile, in Kalyan, the civic body and MPCB jointly cracked down on vendors and shopkeepers violating the ban and seized 550kg of plastic bags and collected 53,000 in fines.

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