Plastic ban must be implemented for alternatives to work, say NGOs

Plastic ban must be implemented  for alternatives to work, say NGOs

 The recently announced State-wide ban on the use of plastic items of thickness 40 microns and below has given hope to a number of organisations that promote the use of alternatives such as cloth and paper bags in the City. However, at the same time, an earnest implementation of the ban by the government is crucial for such alternatives to work, they say.

‘Borrow a Bag’ is a concept that is being promoted by a social enterprise organisation, StoneSoup, in as many as 100 shops in areas such as Whitefield, HSR Layout and Jayanagar, among others, in the City. When customers walk into one of these 100 stores, they will have the option of borrowing a cloth bag of their choice with a small deposit and a weekly rent charged against it. When the bag is returned on a subsequent visit, the deposit is refunded after deducting the rent.

“The reason why it is working is because there is a lot of engagement by citizens. Besides just selling our idea, we are also putting a service model in place. 

Before starting this project, we conducted a pilot study in August for 90 days. We have seen a phenomenal growth since October,” said Malini Parmar, co-founder, StoneSoup. With regard to the ban, Parmar said, “Earlier, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike was fining shops that used plastic bags of thickness 40 microns or below. However, it only became a rent-seeking model without any real impact. If the government is serious, then it should stop plants from manufacturing plastic bags altogether,” she said.

The ‘Borrow a Bag’ concept was originally inspired by a social initiative called ‘Rent A Bag’ that was started in Sanjaynagar about two years ago. This concept is now being promoted by an NGO, Nanu Naagarika, in various other parts of the City such as Whitefield, Seegehalli, Marathahalli and Mahadevapura. While being optimistic about the spread of the initiative, Bindu B, a member of Nanu Naagarika, said, “Many shopkeepers are cooperative as it involves saving on the cost of buying plastic bags at the rate of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000. However, it is the customers who do not want to take the effort to be involved in this initiative and would rather flock shops that give plastic bags.” For the past four years, the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, that bans the sale of plastic bags of thickness 40 microns or less, has been effective in the State.

 “Despite this rule, the use and manufacture of plastic bags has been going on unabated,” she said.

Kamalnath, coordinator of To Make a Difference, an NGO that has been promoting the use of cloth bags on a small scale, said, “If the government strictly follows its own orders, we will definitely see more people going for jute and cloth bags.”

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