No plastic, Please!::By:Ayan Saha
No plastic, Please!
By: Ayan Saha
1)No person including a shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler or retailer, trader, hawker or feriwala (i.e. which shall include all kinds of hand pushed/pulled carts which are used to sell various commodities), shall sell or store or use any kind of plastic carry bags for storing or dispensing of any eatable or non-eatable goods or materials.
2)No person shall manufacture, import, store, sell or transport any kinds of plastic carry bags (including that of Poly Propylene, Non-woven fabric type carry bags) in the whole state of Tripura.
3)No person shall use any kind of plastic cover or plastic sheet or plastic film or plastic tube to pack or cover any book including magazine and invitation card or greeting card.
As per the notification, ‘Carry Bags’ mean bags made from any plastic material, used for the purpose of carrying or dispensing commodities. They do not include bags that constitute or form an integral part of the packaging in which goods are sealed prior to use. Therefore, it is useless to ask how biscuits or noodles or milk will be packed in Tripura after 4th October. However, one may always wonder why ‘Flex Banners’ are not included in the ban.
The plastic bags used as container for bio-medical wastes as specified under the Bio-Medical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 1998 are also exempted from the ban.
The government has imposed the ban as per provision of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, under which violators could face imprisonment up to five years and fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh or both. Several higher Government officials including DM, SDM, BDO, Executive Officers of Nagar Panchayats and CEO of Agartala Municipal Council have been authorized to implement the notification. Superintendent of Police & Officers at the level of Sub-Inspector of Police and above will also implement the directions. Therefore, raids for ‘Plastic bags’ are expected, which, I sincerely hope, will not be like those for helmet and driving license on the road!
Plastic bags are everywhere. Each year the world goes through some 500 Billion plastic bags. Only about 2% of these bags are recycled. Most of them are used for the few minutes it takes to get from the shop to home and then they are thrown away. Plastic shopping bags can last up to a thousand years in a landfill. In the environment, they break down into tiny, toxic particles that become part of the soil and water. They contribute to the plastic debris in the ocean that kills an estimated 10 lakhs sea creatures each year. They block gutters, drains, rivers and help create pollution and flood. Underground presence of plastic hampers ground water recharge. Harmful chemicals and colours of plastic contaminate soil and water. Considering all these points and many more, the decision of the government to eliminate the use of disposable plastic bags is about more than just the environment, it is about health, sustainability, and ultimately, the quality of our life.
Less than a month is left in hand. For proper implementation of the decisions, few more points, I feel, also need to be addressed.
1)Law will follow its way but at the same time massive awareness should also be created. It will be better if people accept the directions gladly with an understanding of the noble points behind them.
2) Due to its durability and price, plastic hardly has a substitute. A consumer must not be leave with no option. It is high time to encourage entrepreneurs to come up with innovative substitutes of plastic bags. In Bangladesh, I found people using bags made from mosquito nets.
3)There are lakhs of plastic bags lying with people, at home as well as at shops (In the garbage as well!). Appropriate authority should take steps to collect and treat them. A ‘Blanket Ban on Plastic’ is not enough; we want a ‘Plastic Bag Free Tripura’.
About The Author:Ayan Saha is a Scientist working under Tripura State Council for Science & Technology Department, Government of Tripura. He has done his graduation in BSc (Math) from MBB College. He has worked as a Science Communicator for more than 15 years. At present he is posted at Gomati District. He writes about science topics in several news papers and magazines. He is also associated with various science club and science societies.You can write to Ayan Saha at email@example.com