While a ban on single-use plastic is coming into effect in Kerala from January 1, alternative products like cloth and paper bags are expecting a boost whereas traders are up in arms against any stringent enforcement.
Various agencies like the Kudumbasree Mission and Harita Keralam Mission have initiated steps to promote units involved in the cloth and paper bag making to enhance production.
A large section of traders under the banner Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samathi has threatened to go on an indefinite stir in case of stringent enforcement without providing adequate alternative products.
The Kerala government decided to ban single use plastic items from 2020. Bottled drinking water above 300 ml are among the items given exemption for the time being. The producers would be made responsible for buying back used plastic commodities and fine starting from Rs. 10,000 will be imposed on those violating the plastic ban.
While cloth and paper carry bags are the major alternative product required, at present Kerala have even less then ten percent production of these items compared to the plastic carry bag in use. Owing to ban on plastic in neighboring Tamilnadu, the availability of cloth and paper bags from there was also almost nil now, industry sources said.
Zafer Ameer, a techie-turned alternative products manufacturer in Thiruvananthapuram, said that the demand for alternative products has been increased in the recent past and with Kerala government decision to ban single-use plastic from 2020 the demand has gone up drastically.
The Kudumbasree Mission, which is promoting many small scale units in the state producing cloth and paper carry bags, have also suggested the apparel units to produce cloth bags.
Harita Kerala Mission executive vice-chairman T N Seema said that a series of awareness programmes, including expo of alternative and eco-frintsly products were being initiated as part of enforcing the plastic ban.
Kerala may witness mushrooming of units producing alternative products in the near future, industry sources said.