Mumbai: The implementation of the Maharashtra government’s ambitious plan to ban almost all plastic carry bags and single-use plastic, such as disposable plates and cutlery, food packaging and dozens of other items, kicked in on Friday after the Environment Department issued a notification in the evening.
The government has proposed fines of Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 for the first three offences, with the maximum punishment for violation of the ban being a three-month jail term, but these are not to be implemented immediately.
According to the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Store) Notification, 2018, the manufacture, usage, sale, storage and transport of products made from plastic and thermocol will be banned with immediate effect across the State.
Manufacturers, producers, sellers, traders, retailers and users have been granted a month to finish the existing stock of the banned items. These may either be handed over to the local government body for scientific disposal or through sale to an authorised recycler.
The representatives of the All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association, the Thermoformers and Allied Industries Association and the Maharashtra Plastics Manufacturers Association are planning to meet State Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam and discuss the situation arising out of the proposed ban.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, President of the Thermoformers and Allied Industries Harshit Mehta said that the government has given a time of three to four months to those manufacturing plastic bottles.
As such similar time should be given also to those engaged in manufacturing plastic bags so that a via media can be worked out. The manufacturers are prepared to participate in Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR) to ensure that no plastic garbage is in seen on the streets. There are over 3,000 manufacturers of plastic bags in Maharashtra.
The All India Plastics Manufacturers Association (AIPMA)’s Environment and Recycling Committee Chairman, Akhilesh Bhargava, said the ban will completely or partially shut all affiliated industries like food, pharma, medical, garment, the retail chain leading to massive unemployment. The Maharashtra government will also lose revenue since the manufacturers may shift to other states.
The Plastics Manufacturers Social Welfare Association President, Jagannath V Kamath, said the plastic industry size in Maharashtra is close to 2,150 units with direct employment of around 2 lakh people and indirect employment of nearly 4.5 lakh, including traders, recyclers, etc. As it is GST has badly affected the industry and now this ban will bring down the curtain on the plastic manufacturing industry.
The western State is among the largest generators of plastic waste in the country at 30%. The use of plastic bags, single-use disposable items such as cups, straws, plates, forks, spoons and spreadsheets has now been prohibited. As a result, retailers and consumers are feeling the heat of the move. Under the circumstances the dairy and beverage companies are planning to formalise informal recycling initiatives, currently part of the firms’ corporate social responsibility.