The Maharashtra government’s decision to ban the use of plastic has been welcomed by environmentalists, but frowned upon by some stakeholders who feel that lakhs of people will be rendered jobless in the Rs 50,000 crore industry.
On March 23, the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products notification was issued to ban the manufacture, use, storage, distribution, sale, import and transportation of all kinds of plastic items.
The ban covers a wide range of items like plastic bags, thermocol, disposable cups and plates, cutlery, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic pouches and packaging.
Commercial bodies, like the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association, the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, say the ban would have an adverse impact on the Rs 50,000-crore industry, besides affecting the ancillary units.
MCCI says that the ban on plastic bags has derailed the production, packaging and supply schedules of the grains, bakery and clothing industries.
Environmentalist Almitra Patel says that the industry need not resist the government’s decision, but rather try to accommodate, change itself and manufacture alternate items which are not harmful for the ecosystem. “The plastic menace is there particularly due to the non-recyclable food or snack packaging items.”
The ban would hurt consumers the most, mainly the low income families. It would be hard to buy ordinary grocery products loose from retail outlets. It would be difficult to deliver liquid cooked food items like curries, chutneys and sauces, to customers ordering meals online or on phone.
There should be a mass awareness campaign to promote the ‘bin’ culture and zero tolerance towards littering. This can become a cornerstone of the government’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean India Mission).