The menace of plastic continues to haunt Bengaluru. While the government has banned plastic bags and cutlery, plastic packaging continues to be a major contributor to the city’s overflowing landfills.
Sample this: one hair clip or a bunch of simple hair bands come covered in their own plastic packets.
These are too small and flimsy to be used again and are thrown away once customers take them home.
A shop stocks hundreds of these; and you find dozens of such shops on any busy street in Bengaluru.
Metrolife asked owners of shops, both big and small, on Brigade Road about the menace of plastic packaging and this is what they had to say.
(Korean lifestyle store)
“The products we get from abroad come in plastic packaging but we remove the covers of some of them, like hair bands, when we display them. So some are covered and some are not. But we can’t make any policy changes as the packaging decisions depend on companies abroad,” says Bajrang, in charge of the counter.
(Men’s fashion clothing shop)
“We are against plastic but we can’t ask the suppliers to stop using polythene to cover their products. This is very affordable; a polybag costs only about a rupee. All other alternatives are either not viable on a large scale or are too costly; it might cost Rs 5-6 to cover just one item. So after we receive these items, we remove
the covering and throw it away,” says Siddiq Bain, manager.
(Bridal jewellery store)
“Plastic covering is important for our products, which are valuable and fragile. They come from outside the state and need to be covered properly and plastic boxes do a good job. I’m completely against it though. The government has to take a strict stand,” says Aruna Rajpal, owner and manager.
Archies (Gift shop)
“We use recyclable plastic covering, that too only for products that might get damaged easily otherwise,” says Vivek Chandiramani, manager of the store.
Blackberrys (Premium menswear fashion brand)
“We used to get our products in plastic covers earlier but now we get them in bulk in boxes. Currently, we do not use plastic at all,” says Akhil, assistant manager of the Blackberrys fashion store on Brigade Road.
Homegrown shows the way
“We always use paper carry bags even though they are quite expensive. Sometimes we have to pay more than Rs 30-40 a bag, which might be more than the value of the product we are giving out; even then we’re ready to hand out multiple bags,” says Siddiq Bain, manager of menswear shop, Mr Button.
Small shops do their bit, while retail giants flout rules
When Christma Ananya walked into Japanese retail brand Miniso’s store on Brigade Road last week, she was not prepared for the sight that met her eyes.
At the billing counter, she was handed large, single-use plastic bags to carry her shopping. Christma, a student of environmental science at Mount Carmel College, asked the shop why they were using plastic, and the sales people said they had run out of paper bags.
“We asked if they could give us some paper to wrap it with, but they didn’t have any. We then talked to the management there, who asked us to leave if it bothered us,” she fumes.
Christma says if vegetable vendors and small shop owners can buy paper bags, how can a retail giant like Miniso, which reported an all-India revenue of Rs 700 crore for 2017-18 (their first year of operation) say they have run out of paper bags?
When Metrolife went to the store, employees said they did use paper carry bags but had run out of them on that particular day.