By Shweta Madaan:
“Old habits die hard, especially if they are bad ones.”
The fondness that people had for plastic bags in the past has continued despite bans and awareness drives. However, this time change seems to be in the air.
Plastic bags and plastic items are the most common items used by people in their everyday life. But now the governments of most countries have imposed a blanket ban on the use and manufacture of plastic bags. Plastic is harmful for environment as it pollutes waterways, and is responsible for killing animals by virtue of choking. Plastic pollution results in a chain of environmental challenges the ecology is facing today. Plastic is a non-biodegradable material, it breaks up into small particles and continues to stay for thousands of years. There are 46,000-1,00,000 pieces of plastic debris floating on the surface of every square mile of the oceans all over the world, according to a report.
The ban on plastic bags will turn out to be beneficial for long term as many shopkeepers, manufacturers and customers are now making the crucial shift from plastic to eco-friendly options. The ban will force consumers to shift to alternatives which will in turn give a rise to the emergence of new opportunities. Companies will tend to grow and expand their product lines and thus create green jobs.
However, plastic bags used for packing food products like milk, cooking oil, flour and plastic cups have been excluded from its purview. Similarly plastic bags for use, as specified under the Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, are not covered under the ban. The most common alternatives to plastic bags are cloth and paper bags. Cloth bags are used for carrying heavy items and cost nearly three times more by weight – Rs. 160 per kg as against Rs. 60 per kg for plastic bags. Shopkeepers who have made the switch are passing on the extra cost to the customers to maintain their profit margins. This ban will only come to fruition if customers bring their own shopping bags and stop asking for plastic bags.
The falling fortunes of plastic manufacturers are an indication of the city’s changing habits and outlook. People are becoming more concerned towards the environment. But plastic manufacturers are in a fix, they have to lay off their staff and shut down their operations. However, they have no choice but to adapt, turn to green alternatives and make a transition from plastic bags to green bags.