On March 23, 2018, in a bid to fight against plastic pollution the State Government imposed a ban on plastic. Since then, the single-use plastic products have been banned from use in Maharashtra, a welcome move for all. This move was long coming due to the misuse of plastic products in the country. Maharashtra’s anti-plastic policy is the right example for all the other states to follow. The authorities have specified the exact ‘Dos and Don’ts’ to implement the ban on single-use plastic products.
The list of banned and non-banned items are specified below for you all to have a look:
Bags, spoons, plates and a variety of other single-use plastic items are now banned from manufacturing, sale, distribution, use, and storage. This also includes thermocol, plastic cutlery, food containers, PETE bottles, and other packaging material.
- The plastic used for packaging medicine/drugs, milk, and even for agricultural purposes.
- Plastic bags utilized for exporting goods
- The plastic material used at the manufacturing stage or for handling the solid waste.
P.S. Ramdas Kadam, the environmental minister on 25th June allowed the use of thermocol for only decoration and fish storage.
Strict penalties imposed
The ban is being implemented in the entire state with the help of BMC, MPCB (Maharashtra Pollution Control Board), and the Mumbai police. These are the key players ensuring that the corporates, manufacturers and even citizens adhere to the ban. Efforts are being made to successfully implement the plastic ban in Maharashtra. There are severe penalties being imposed as illustrated below:
- A fine of ₹ 5000 for the first-time offender
- The second-time offender will be fined with ₹ 10,000
- And subsequently, if someone violates it for the third time, then he/she will face imprisonment of 3-months with a fine of up to ₹ 25,000.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is conducting special inspections around the area since 23 June, the day plastic ban in Mumbai was imposed. The collective effort must be praised by all of us and followed as well.
The right move
12 years after the “Maharashtra prevention of non-biodegradable garbage act 2006,” finally the government took steps against the use of single-use plastic. It is not only hazardous to the environment but the Microplastic toxins are even entering our body. This is a necessary evil that needs immediate attention.
Microplastic is not visible to the naked eye so it seems very problematic for all. One cannot detect it inside their food and they are consuming it unknowingly. So, the ban on plastic products may help curb the pollution fast spreading. A right move by the Maharashtra Government.
How to cope with the ban?
Understanding the alternative options available can make a world-of-difference in coping with the plastic ban. For instance:
- Use corn starch-based plastic bags instead of regular plastic ones for food packaging and storage. The alternative is similar in quality but has a shelf-life of only 3 months.
- Also, there are single-use paper bags supporting a higher carbon footprint.
- We would also suggest using stainless steel straws instead of plastic straws.
Reduce, reuse and recycle; this is the best way to fight against plastic pollution. Practices related to using substituting materials will always help as long as they do not degrade the environment.
“Some of the alternatives to plastic can be more harmful to the environment. An amendment to the current ban should be that the producers’ responsibility for the correct disposal of the materials be extended until the process is completed, and not only until the material is sold.” This is what the director of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) said.
These are few of the many alternatives that one can use to avoid single-use plastic. Also, the ban is now being implemented across the state and if successful we will certainly see a single-use plastic ban in India in the immediate future.
E-Commerce giants get an extension
While small businesses are being readily affected due to the ban imposed on plastic, E-Commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon have an extension to change their packaging from plastic to recyclable cardboard boxes. To comply with the ban, the state Government allowed an extension of up to 3 months. Also, the exemption of thermocol by Ramdas Kadam as said earlier puts the plastic ban implementation in danger. Repeated exempts like these may dilute the ban for good.
Although, most states in India have imposed some form of ban on plastic bags the implementation isn’t great. Environmentalists fear that the ban will not be successful due to the huge economic value of the plastic industry. Only if the citizens, corporates and the entire community make a collective effort, only then will this ban be effective.
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