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Plastic ban: Big retailers in Pune switch to alternatives, but manufacturers struggle to keep up

While major retailers like Big Bazaar and D-Mart have come up with 100 per cent compostable bags along with the bags made of cloths and papers as a solution to the ban, smaller retailers are finding it difficult to cope with the added expenses.

pune Updated: Apr 23, 2018 15:11 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Plastic ban,compostable
In a blow to retailers such as Big Bazaar and D-Mart, authorities have termed the compostable bags to be equally hazardous in nature. (Pratham Gokhale/HT File Photo)

While civic authorities are uncompromising in their efforts to enforce the state-wide plastic ban, retailers are finding it difficult to switch to alternate mediums. While major retailers like Big Bazaar and D-Mart have come up with 100 per cent compostable bags along with the bags made of cloths and papers as a solution to the ban, smaller retailers are finding it difficult to cope with the added expenses.

THE BIG BANE FOR WORKERS AND INDUSTRY?
The flip side of the plastic ban is that it, according to manufacturers, has led to the loss of jobs and closure of manufacturing units. We also look at some ‘expensive’ alternatives to banned plastic items
While some workers have found odd jobs, others are still unemployed
Source: All-India Plastic Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA)
WHY MANUFACTURERS ARE UPSET
1 Production stopped and industrial unitsshut overnight
2 Raw materials sent back at the owner’sloss
3 Excessive stock of manufactured items ingodowns
4 Traders’ refusal to payLoans
5 Unpaid salaries of unemployed workers
WHY TRADERS AND HAWKERS ARE LIVID
Shops had to be closed Tonnes of stock Nobody wants to buy alternatives that are expensive
SILVER LINING?
A fortnight after the state issued the ban, the government exempted small PET and PETE bottles with a carrying capacity of less than half a litre from the plastic ban.
Manufacturers and traders hope for more such concessions.
A state-appointed five-member committee will receive such suggestions from representatives of plastic traders and manufacturers and submit a feasibility report on collecting used plastic items under waste management rules.
> We have shut all units that produced banned items. The state should at least exempt products that can be recycled and do not have alternatives. We are waiting for another notification on the ban.
HARPAL SINGH, of All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association
BAGFUL OF OPTIONS (Cost per unit)
THE PUNE STORY
PENALTY FOR VIOLATION
Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000
For first and second offences (designated officers in municipal corporations, police force and environment department can issue such fines)
Rs 25,000 and three-month jail:
For the third offence (the right rests with judicial magistrates)
WHO CAN PENALISE VIOLATORS?
IN URBAN AREAS
Municipal commissioners
Deputy municipal commissioners
Shops and establishment officers and inspectors
Sanitary inspector
Health inspector
Ward officer
Officers nominated by municipal commissioner and chief executive officer of municipal councils
IN RURAL AREAS
District collector
Deputy collector
Sub-divisional officer
Tehsildar
Talathi or officer nominated by district collector
CEO of zilla parishad
Block divisional officer
Health officer
Development officer
District education officer
OTHER OFFICIALS
Member secretary, regional officer, sub-regional officer and field officer of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB)
Director and deputy director of health services, health officers and director of the primary and secondary education board
All tourism police, police inspector, sub-inspector, motor vehicles inspector, traffic police and range forest officer
Citizens wishing to dispose of plastic goods can approach the local ward office of the PMC or reach out to the head office of PMC’s solid waste management department.
Graphics: HITESH MATHUR

However, in a blow to retailers such as Big Bazaar and D-Mart, authorities have termed the compostable bags to be equally hazardous in nature.

Monica Walujkar, an official from the solid waste management department, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), said, “There were various places in the city where 100 per cent compostable bags were being used as an alternative to plastic bags. However, we have seized these bags from various places because they are equally hazardous to the environment.”

“According to the plastic ban guidelines, compostable bags can only be used in nursery gardens,” she added

Responding to the issue, an official from Big Bazaar, on the condition of anonymity, said, “We have not received any notification from any governing authority asking us to stop using compostable bags. We have been openly using them for many days and no action has been taken against us.”

“We get all our bags from our main godownin Gujarat. We have not received any orders from our senior management to stop using compostable bags,” he added.

Accusing the civic authorities of targeting small retailers while giving a pass to the major ones, Ravi Jashnani, president of the Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturing Association (MPMA), said, “The civic authorities have trivialised the illegal usage of these compostable bags by Big Bazar and D-Mart. These bags clearly violate the norms fixed by the state government and action should be taken against them.”

Walujkar, responding to the allegation, said that PMC officials would be sent to both D-Mart and Big Bazaar and immediate action would be taken against the retailers if they are found breaking the law.

Manufacturing fallout

According to the All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA), more than four lakh workers were employed by around 2,150 manufacturing units in the state.A month after the Maharashtra government issued a notification to ban plastic items, a thousand plastic manufacturing units across the state shut down, according to manufacturers.The fallout also abruptly rendered lakhs of industry workers without a source of livelihood.

Nilesh Lunkad, senior member of the MPMA, said, “Almost 50 per cent of the plastic manufacturing units in Pune have closed down as a result of the plastic ban. This has left thousands of people jobless overnight.”

He added, “While the government is strict in the implementation of the ban, they are doing nothing to suggest alternatives to plastic. They are doing nothing to save small scale plastic manufacturing units which have all become bankrupt or are facing major financial difficulties.”

The MPMA has already filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court, seeking a repeal of the ban.

“In one stroke, the state’s plastic industry has been rendered defunct. All units have running loans amounting to crores of rupees. They will all have to shut down if the ban is not lifted,” said Jashnani.

Chakan, Kondhwa, Shindewadi, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Rajgurunaga are the major plastic manufacturing zones in the city.

First Published: Apr 23, 2018 14:33 IST