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50-micron plastic bags off ban list in Pune, traders breathe sign of relief

Those selling plastic goods across the city faced severe losses in business after the ban

pune Updated: Jul 08, 2018 15:23 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,traders,breathe
Traders in Pune who make a living by selling plastic goods in wholesale and retail had faced severe loss in business after the ban. After the penalty for use of plastic was levied, the shopkeepers had to get rid of most of their merchandise. (HT PHOTO )

Pune The permission of using 50 micron polythene, low density bags have rekindled a flickering hope for plastic traders in the city. July 7 marked 15 days since the Maharashtra government implemented a fine of Rs 5,000 for being in possession of plastic bags.

While the 50-micron bags are conditionally accepted under the ban, the local players are taking their time to warm up to it even as the plastic traders remain hopeful.

Traders in Pune who make a living by selling plastic goods in wholesale and retail had faced severe loss in business after the ban. After the penalty for use of plastic was levied, the shopkeepers had to get rid of most of their merchandise.

Local shops are currently bereft of all sizes of plastic bags, plates, spoons, bowls, straws, sheets, gloves, caps, among others things. The main customers of these shops are general store owners, small business owners and restaurant owners among others.

“Our customers are afraid of buying the 50 micron bags. They do not believe it is does not come under the ban due to the heavy fee levied by the government,” said Hasmukh Shah, 32, who owns Arihant Plastic Goods in Bohri Ali, Ravivar Peth area of Pune. Shah used to sell several kilogrammes of plastic material, mostly bags, in a day at the rate of Rs 150-160 per kg.

CONFUSED ABOUT CHANGES IN THE BAN? HERE’S YOUR GUIDE
Changes made by state notification issued on July 2:
Retail and wholesale recyclable plastic packaging allowed
Above 50 microns-the thickness of plastic packaging material that retailers can use
2g-minimum weight of plastic packaging they can use
Packaging material must mention details of the manufacturer, type of plastic with code number and buy-back price
PET and PETE drinking water bottles with a capacity of less than 200ml are banned
Non-recyclable packaging banned with immediate effect
Manufacturers of recyclable multi-layer packaging given three months to ensure collection and recycling of used packets, failing which they could be banned
E-commerce industry to come under purview of the ban by October if they do not find eco-friendly alternatives
(Source: Notification issued by state environment department on Monday)
SEA OF CHANGE REQUIRED TO SAVE OCEANS
While the 50micron bags are conditionally accepted under the ban, the local players are taking their time to warm up to it even as the plastic traders remain hopeful. (HT PHOTO)
13 to 15 million tonnes of this plastic finds its way into the oceans which is equal to two garbage trucks of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute
322 million tonnes of plastic produced by the world in 2015, which is equal to more than 900 Empire State Buildings
$13 billion per year environmental cost of damage done to fishing industry apart form loss of marine life
335 million tonnes of plastic produced by the world in 2016
8 million metric tonnes of plastic enters our oceans every year
(Source: United Nations Environment Programme)

Under the July 2 notification, the state government provided relief to the local general store owners as it allowed conditional use of 50-micron plastic bags. The bags will have to be 50-micron thick, weigh 2 gram and have the stamp of the manufacturer of the bag.

Referring to these conditions, Suresh Jagtap, head of the garbage department at Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) said, “Certain terms are in place to use the 50 micron plastic products. It won’t be right to say outrightly that they are accepted (under the purview of the ban).”

“This plastic is much more thicker than the normal plastic bags that we use. We had 85 different sizes of plastic bags and pouches besides the custom-made orders. If we sold the earlier material at say Rs 130/kg, the new material will be Rs 160/kg. It is expensive for us to buy as well,” said Rasik Prajapati, who runs one of the two Good Luck Plastic Goods store in Pangul Ali lane of Ganesh Peth in Pune.

Prajapati said that various sizes of bags were put on sale but customers did not buy the 50-micron bag, when pitched. The ones who saw the product out of curiosity were not convinced and left.

“We have suffered a loss of Rs 5,000 one time. Now we simply do not sell plastic bags. We sell paper bags but the sale is not as good as plastic as paper is not durable for packaging,” said a man in his 60s, working at Gadiya Plastic Traders in Nana Peth area of Pune.

First Published: Jul 08, 2018 15:22 IST