Reader of the week | Fight the plastic, not the ban

Catch the big fish

The manufacturers are where the work needs to begin. Quite simply, if plastic is not produced at a wider scale, the effect will also automatically be reduced. People are still not in the habit of carrying their own bags and should also be penalised for the same as should the shopkeepers or vendors. Rules not being followed and implemented and the onus should lie with the administration to change that.

Chander Vij, via email

Change the penalty-driven approach

A major contributor to pollution is the excessive use of polythene and plastic bags, but we can effectively stop the use of plastic polythene bags by simple measures including keeping a check on the source of origin of the banned material, enforcing proper workforce in apni mandis and fruit markets. The administration can also engage non-governmental organisations or cottage industries to make bags from alternative material. In short, it is time we move past the penalty-driven approach.

Capt Amar Jeet Kumar, Kharar

Incentivise sectors to go plastic-free

The adverse impact of littered single-use plastic items is globally recognised, but the administration needs to go past imposing fines and could well start by declaring particular sectors or areas as plastic-free, a model which can then be expanded or replicated. Rewards for sectors or areas accomplishing the feat could not only incentivise the participants, but also grab a few more eyeballs and help create more awareness.

Ginni Bhardwaj, via email

Ban production of plastic

First and foremost, the government must come down heavily on plastic manufacturing units. Those making plastic products which are already banned must be made to close down shop. It should also strictly enforce bans on items like plastic cutlery and straws. The UT administration must also take lessons from the implementation of plastic ban in Himachal Pradesh since 2009.

Shaina Chauhan, via email

Ban without an alternative of no use

The Government of India has imposed a ban on the single-use plastic items with effect from July 1, but by providing no alternative to the consumers for plastic products — which have made deep roots into our daily lives — it was bound to fall short of the desired impact. Compostable bags can be manufactured and supplied to customers, who should be encouraged to invest in products that can be reused multiple times including bottles, cutlery, containers to avoid purchasing single-use plastics.

Kidar Nath Sharma, Chandigarh

Join effort required

To make the plastic ban effective, the efforts of both Chandigarh administration as well as citizens are equally important. If the citizens fail to follow and implement the rules, no positive result can be achieved. The municipal corporation, UT administration and police force are imposing fines on violators, but the use of plastic items continues unabated. A certain level of awareness needs to be created among citizens regarding the cons of plastic bags and benefits of ban on social media, newspaper and radio, while alternate options of business and earning need to be given to owners of plastic bag factories.

Prabhjot Nagpal, Zirakpur

Compostable plastic they way out

Manufacturers of carry bags must be encouraged to use leaves, jute and cloth as raw material. They must also be provided incentives and subsidies for this. Besides, renowned scientists and engineers must also be roped in to innovate compostable plastic. These are made of renewable materials and break down through composting.

Subhash Chugh, via email

A mammoth task

Enforcing plastic ban in a huge country like India is a mammoth task for various reasons. Majority of the people do not have an understanding about the harmful effects of plastic use. The sheer convenience it provides in our everyday life overrides all its disadvantages. So unless there is an alternative, that is as convenient and cheap as plastic, it will be a herculean task for the agencies to enforce the ban. The other step is to totally stop production of single-use plastic. Environment friendly bags, packets and other containers have to be innovated in the long run to protect the earth.

Anil Kumar Yadav, Chandigarh

Promote paper, cloth bags

Single-use plastic has become an unnecessary need of daily life and people can hardly afford a day without it. We need a strong alternative for the same. Paper and cloth bags should be distributed free at marketplaces. The government should popularise biodegradable wood-based cutlery or pattals. The residents should be encouraged to use such biodegradable products instead of plastic. A helpline number should be introduced to supply biodegradable cutlery and bags for household functions and parties.

Sunny Dhaliwal, via email

Sensitise the public

Until there is a check on manufacturing units, the problem will persist. Public awareness is a must. Put up educational hoardings at all public places, such as apni mandis, grain market etc, to sensitise people about the adverse affects of plastic use.

Sham Sunder Sharma, Chandigarh

Make alternatives to plastic affordable

The notification regarding plastic ban was issued by the Union environment ministry in August 2021, giving enough time for its implementation on July 1 this year. But a month on, there is much to desired when it comes to implementation. The government itself did precious little to enforce the ban. There were very few awareness activities at the ground level. And the authorities could not find cheaper alternatives to plastic. For instance, the cost of paper wraps remains higher than plastic wraps.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Stop choking the environment

Indiscriminate use of plastic has wreaked havoc for the environment, put the lives of terrestrial and aquatic beings in danger, chocked drains and led to waterlogging and several other problems. Checking its use at the end of the line – i.e at shops and rehris will not bring effective results. It should be stopped at manufacturing point. As individuals, we should opt to carry a cloth bag when going to market.

Sqn Ldr Manjit Singh Johar (retd), Chandigarh

A small step today can go a long way

Even little steps such as carrying a paper/cloth/jute bag to the market so that you don’t have to ask the shopkeeper for a plastic bag, carrying your own water bottle while stepping out, not using plastic straws/cutlery etc can go a long way in protecting the environment from the hazards of the plastic.

Ishita Nara, via email

Multi-pronged approach

Prohibition of single-use plastics is essential to mitigate its adverse impact on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. MC officials should conduct enforcement drives to check usage of single-use plastics by imposing hefty fines on local markets & shopping malls violating the orders. The banned plastic thus collected should be disposed of through incineration, in a scientific way, for safe disposal. Media can play a vital role in influencing people’s behaviour by encouraging them to switch to environment-friendly alternatives of plastic, such as jute, cloth, paper, bamboo etc. Producers must be made accountable for safe collection of plastic under extended producer responsibility.

Surbhi Negi, Panchkula

Cancel licence of plastic manufacturing units

As they say, “nip the evil in the bud”. The government must cancel the licence of plastic manufacturing units. Once we restrict production of plastic, the retailers will automatically fall in place. Challaning small vendors is an eyewash when no action is taken against the big industries.

Suresh Trikha, Zirakpur

Take the stakeholders along

After the initial crackdown, the ban on single use plastic was imposed from July 1, but despite the special task-force teams being constituted in tricity and hefty fine, people continue to flout the ban with impunity. The assistant commissioner of the municipal corporation (MC) says that 20 drives have been conducted. But none of this accounted for anything concrete. The civic bodies ought to have consulted the stakeholders viz the manufacturers and dealers and discuss the alternatives for the plastic. The citizens too have a common complaint against the MC and this is a good opportunity for them to change their perception.

Usha Verma, Chandigarh

Each one, teach one

People in the tricity continue to use plastic bags and several other plastic packaging materials despite being fully aware of harmful effects for the sub-standard plastic. People in positions of responsibilities, including parents at home and teachers at school as well as resident welfare societies and non-governmental organisations can all make a huge impact on not only the young and impressionable mind, but the society at large.

Kundan Lal Sharma, Mohali

Make the shift to jute, cotton bags

Both the administration and citizens need to take initiative in making the shift from plastic to other forms of carry bags like jute and cotton bags. Well-planned campaigns should be run to create awareness among the citizens regarding the ill effects of plastic. Jute bags need to be distributed to the citizens every now and then to promote their usage. Political leaders must also show their involvement in making the ban on plastic more effective.

Subhash Nagpal, Zirakpur

Start with daily life changes

The Centre recently announced a ban on the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of selected single-use plastic items with low utility and high littering potential like plates, spoons, glasses etc. The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, has already prohibited manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags with thickness less than 75 microns, however, it is the prime responsibility of every single citizen to adopt a ‘no plastic’ policy in one’s daily life. With so many laws and bans in place already, this has come to a point where the use of plastic is a matter of self discipline.

Sanjay Chopra, Mohali

Manage plastic produce better

Plastic has entered every field in a big way, Be it engineering industries, food packaging, medicines, automobiles, it has become a part and parcel of everyday functioning and, thus, banning only polythene bags (a small percentage) will not help end the problem of pollution. The issue needs to be tackled and solved on rational and practical grounds. We should make use of the latest technological advancements to come up with the best way of managing, disposing and recycling plastic.

Sateesh Dadwal, Chandigarh

Polythene bags need to be replaced

There is a wide gap between preaching and practice. The shopkeepers and customers have used polythene bags for ages instead and replacing them with the more explosive jute and cloth bags is not as straightforward as it might seem. The administration needs to find the proper motivation and incentive for businessmen to steer away from plastic materials. Helping set up plants to produce cheaper jute and cloth bags instead of polythene bags could be a good starting point. Citizens should make a habit to carry cloth and jute bags if they are more readily available.

Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali

Re-engineer plastic

Managing plastic has never been a priority despite the adverse impact it has had on the environment. The need of the hour is to redevelop, reengineer plastic rather than putting a blanket ban, which will add more problems for the plastic industry. We should follow 3RS i.e. reduce, reuse, recycle plastic waste. It should be our primary aim to find a viable alternative. Lastly we must educate the public to reduce their dependence on plastic.

Col TBS Bedi (retd), Mohali

Rehabilitate those in plastic biz

Businesses of small vendors depend entirely on single-use plastics. The present available alternatives, if at all available, are not convenient or economical. Governments should heavily subsidise such alternative products apart from exempting these from GST. Production of single-use plastics will have to be banned to make the ban effective. These manufacturing units of plastic products may also need rehabilitation.

DS Banati, Mohali

Mere policy formulation won’t help

Banning of plastic is a long pending issue, now the world has entered into a do-or-die situation amid rapid climate change. For complete eradication of plastic, mere formulation of policies on papers and delivering highly impressive talks won’t help. The need of the hour is to immediately initiate a widespread awareness and educational programmes to educate people regarding climate change and its impact on them.

Lakhvinder Singh, Mohali

Change begins at home

Once we put an end production of plastic, its usage will automatically stop. School children can also play a huge role by taking the learning home. Students can also undertake simple campaigns wherein they make two paper bags each, and give it to a stranger with a message to stop use of plastic bags. Change begins with us, so let us do it ourselves first and then expect others to follow.

Anju Mohan, Panchkula

Work together

It’s the ‘people’ who need to convince their conscience to shun the use of plastic so that their future generations can survive. The business community, civil society, intellectuals academic institutions, subject experts and government agencies should work together to implement change. Instead of playing the blame game, rope in the industry to suggest alternatives to polythene. People should also make it a point to bring in simple behavioural changes such as carrying their own cloth/paper bags while shopping etc.

Shammi Bhatia, via email

READER OF THE WEEK

Switch to eco-friendly options

People should switch to eco-friendly alternatives of polythene bags and carry their own bags made of paper bags, jute bags, canvas bags or cotton bags. There should be a strict check on manufacturing, transport, distribution, sale and use of single-use plastic items like straws, plates, cups, cutlery etc. Shops found violating the ban and giving out plastic bags or single-use plastic must be fined and closed for a suitable period as a punishment.

Puranjay Chawla, Chandigarh

EXPERT TAKE

Behavioural change

There has to be a behavioural change among people. They should come forward to shoulder the responsibility of eradicating single-use plastic.

Debendra Dalai, member secretary, Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee

Alternatives

The Beopar Mandal is making efforts to give subsidies and encourage people to turn to cloth bags. Customers must also insist on not using plastic bags. People must bring their own bags to places like mandis.

Diwakar Sahoolja, Patron Chandigarh Beopar Mandal

Fines & punishments

Since the ban kicked in, we carried out around 20 drives and confiscated 25 kgs of plastic, and collected fine of around 10,000. We will continue our drive and urge residents and shopkeepers to adhere to the ban.

Varinder Jain, assistant commissioner, MC, Mohali

Action & awareness

The drive will continue till people don’t make a resolve to stop use of plastic.

People are cooperating as they understand the importance of saving the environment. Awareness programmes are being organised

Dharamvir Singh, Panchkula MC commissioner

RWAs’ role

The govt has taken effective measures to manage plastic waste. Now RWAs and other organisations must also come forward to create awareness among people.

SK Loona, Purab Premium Apartments Allottees Association, Sector 88

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