Video Producer: Maaz Hasan
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
In order to phase out single-use plastic, the government-imposed ban on the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of identified single-use plastic items came into effect on 1 July 2022.
To see the impact of this ban, I visited Delhi's Azadpur Mandi and it was very surprising for me.
Polythene bags, one of the 19 banned items that were listed by the Central Pollution Control Board, were used normally by both buyers and sellers at the mandi.
On asking, they told me that there isn't a better alternative available to them. While there are alternatives, they are much costlier. For instance, paper bags are usually 2 to 3 times more expensive than the polythene bags.
On the promise of anonymity, vegetable sellers spoke about their reasons for using polythene despite the ban.
"Sir, how will we work if polythene isn't used? Everything – milk, curd, oil – is sold in plastic bags. If the government bans it, our livelihood would be destroyed. Where would we get jute and other fibre bags from? It would become a financially non-viable option for us. Some alternative arrangements should be made by the government. We agree that plastic does create pollution, but what do we do if our livelihood is attached to it?"Vegetable Seller
Another vegetable seller, who chose to be anonymous, raised the issue of cost and financial viability.
"This polythene that the government has banned...if we get anything at the same price, then there is no problem. If this polythene is worth 30 paise and the other bag is worth Rs 5 then we and the customer both have a problem. Nobody wants to give Rs 5 and if I get anything else for 30 paise, I'll give that to the customer."Vegetable Seller
Many small-scale vegetable sellers highlighted that this ban is going to affect them badly as they operate on smaller order quantity.
"If plastic is completely banned, retail sales by small sellers would be completely destroyed. This is the main point. Selling of 500gm or 1 kg of items would be affected. It is said that plastic creates problems since it's thrown away. It's the people who are irresponsible and litter roads with plastic bags."Vegetable Seller
Everyone I spoke to was in support of the ban, but all of them demand an alternative.
"People come without their own bags and they ask for polybags. We tell them that the government has banned it, how would we provide that? So, for now, we are using these paper bags. But we are facing problems. Waiting for the government to help us with an alternative."General Store Owner
On the other hand, those who were in the business of selling plastic items are facing a real crisis of livelihood. A plastic seller told me, "My shop is on the verge of getting closed. We don't have much. We are just selling paper napkins, plates, etc. For now, I have no alternative. Nothing has come to us. We haven't got anything yet. We are planning to leave this business."
Let Us Understand The Ban
As per the rules of the Central Pollution Control Board, 19 items have been banned. Below is the list:
It is important to note that the government has not decided to suddenly impose the ban. On 15 August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort, first called for a ban on the single-use plastic.
On 12 August 2021, Central Pollution Control Board made an amendment to Plastic Waste Management Rules. This ban has to be imposed in three phases. First, from 30 September 2021, plastics with a thickness under 75 microns was be banned; the second phase is the one that started on 1 July 2022 under which plastics under 100 microns are banned, and 19 items were mentioned in the list. The third phase starts on 31 December 2022 in which plastics under 120 microns would be banned.
In this situation, the question arises, if plastics under 100 microns are banned, how come transparent water bottles, packaged chips, and milk packets still exist in the market?
As per the experts, things that can be recycled have not been banned by the government. If you carefully see the water bottles, they have a recycle symbol. Even chips packets carry that label.
Now, the question arises: Don't these water bottles and chips packets contribute to pollution? Do they get completely recycled? The question also arises about the motive with which the government has imposed a ban. Will this be successful?
You can write your answers in the comment section of the video.
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