Plastic ban has worked in Sikkim but not in Delhi, finds Pune-based NGO
eCoexist, a Pune-based NGO has been pressing for the use of natural and recycled products besides conducting an analysis of the effectiveness of plastic bag bans.pune Updated: Mar 25, 2018 14:56 IST
With Maharashtra announcing the ban on plastics on March 18, a research by a city-based NGO eCoexist indicates that within India, the ban has worked in places like Sikkim, but not in Delhi.
eCoexist, a city-based NGO has been pressing for the use of natural and recycled products besides conducting an analysis of the effectiveness of plastic bag bans.
The NGO’s study found that 66% of shops around Sikkim used paper bags or newspapers and around 34% used plastic bags (which includes non-woven bags). Although the use of plastic was still quite common, significantly more people were using paper than in most Indian states.
There is no evidence to say whether the paper bags are being reused to the extent required to qualify as more eco-friendly than single-use plastics.
So using this as a measure of success is also questionable, the NGO said.
The ban started on June 4 1998. The legislation states, “You shall not deliver any goods or materials purchased or otherwise to any person, firm, shop, company or any other agency or organisation in plastic wrappers or plastic bags.”
Initially, in big towns, continuous checks took place and strict fines of up to ₹20.000 were imposed on offenders and this created a level of fear, making the ban effective.
In both Gangtok and Soreng, PP non woven bags are popular. This is concerning because they are falsely advertised as eco-friendly when they too are made from plastic and damage the environment. People need to be made aware of these facts so they can make better informed decisions regarding their choice of their bags. Additionally, the government should recognise this and include non-woven bags in the ban.
The Delhi government ordered a complete ban on the use of all plastic bags in the market areas in January 2009, and later, in October 2012, Delhi government ordered a blanket ban on all types of plastic bags, which included plastic sheets and films used to package books, magazines and cards. The bags exempted from ban were those used in medical waste and for export purposes.
There was no clear effort from the government to aid the introduction of the ban unlike the previous years. There had been other laws passed regarding plastic bags which may have eased the transition, however, these efforts were only effective in reducing plastic bags in shopping malls and outlets. For example, in 2008, the minimum thickness of bags was raised from 20 to 40 microns. Then, in 2009, there was a ban on all types of plastic bags in market areas.
Alternatives to plastic bags such as paper, the most popular alternative (66% of vendors choose) to plastic, cloth and jute were introduced.
To enforce the ban, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has the task of regulating the use, collection, transportation and disposal of bags, while Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has the task of regulating manufacturing and recycling of bags in Delhi.
The penalty for those found to be breaking the law is a fine
up to ₹1,00,000 rupees or imprisonment up to seven years. Despite this, the ban is very poorly enforced. Hence, the ban has been largely unsuccessful.