Environmentalists give thumbs up to plastic ban but industry in doubts

9 April, 2018

 

The environmentalists have welcomes whole heartedly,Maharashtra government’s decision to ban the use of plastic has but many stakeholders are grimacing about it as they feel that lakhs of people will be rendered jobless in the Rs 50,000 crore industry.

The Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products was sent a notification to ban the manufacture, use, storage, distribution, sale, import and transportation of all kinds of plastic items

The government had stated that “today’s pain is tomorrow’s gain” as it rejected the pleas of some players from the plastic industry to reconsider the decision on ban. 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.

Vice president Lalit Gandhi of MCCI’ssaid the ban on plastic bags has derailed the production, packaging and supply schedules of the grains, bakery and clothing industries. He added that many units are on the verge of closure in the absence of the basic packaging material – the plastic bags – and we fear that nearly three lakh people employed there may become jobless.

Environmentalists believe 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 threat is there particularly due to the non-recyclable food or snack packaging items.

S K Ray, the honorary secretary of the Indian Centre for Plastic in the Environment (ICPE), set up on the recommendation of a task force constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, said the ban on plastics is not a solution to the growing challenges of solid waste management.

This is possibly a “retrograde step as 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.

Also, it would be difficult to deliver liquid cooked food items like curries, chutneys and sauces, to customers ordering meals online or on phone.

‘Life Cycle Assessment of Grocery Carrier Bags’ by Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark in February 2018, says plastic bags are environmentally friendlier as compared to the conventional alternatives.

There are numerous such studies, including one conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi, arriving at similar conclusions, he further said.

Ray also suggested that the ‘source segregation’ (at the origin) of all solid waste, including plastics would dramatically improve the recycling efficiency of all throw away items.

According to many environmentalist the menace and damage caused by excessive careless and needless use of plastic has caused a massive damage to the ecosystem and  burning and degradation of plastic releases carcinogenic toxins. The micro-plastics have entered our food chain. Wherever plastic is needed for packaging like the milk pouches, there cellulose-based compostable plastic can be used. The microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment, resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste.

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