The Maharashtra government, on 23 March, announcing its ambitious ban on plastic bags, water bottles and other disposable plastic items in the state sent many Mumbaikars in a tizzy. After all, Mumbaikars depend on plastic for buying daily needs including while shopping for grocery. The implementation of this prohibition will begin from June 23, which has raised many questions and objections from the citizens.
The Maharashtra government laid down this strict plastic ban after the state civic bodies started facing serious problems on garbage disposing and its management. The Maharashtra government has also banned the manufacture, usage, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale and storage, and import of plastic bags through a notification dated March 23 this year.
When will the ban be implemented?
The ban was mulled on Gudi Padwa that is March 23, 2018, and the implementation of this prohibition will begin from June 23. The plastic ban was issued under the name of Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, 2018, under which the notification cited the rising concerns of ‘usage and disposal of plastic are diverse and include accumulation of waste in landfills, water bodies and in natural habitats, physical problems for wild animals resulting from ingestion or entanglement in plastic, the leaching of chemicals from plastic products and the potential for plastics to transfer chemicals to wildlife and humans.’
Which plastic products are banned?
The ban covers plastic bags, disposable cups and plates, plastic cutlery, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic pouches and packaging, and thermocol.
The ban notification also has defined ‘Plastic’ means material; which contains as an essential ingredient a high polymer such as polyethylene terephthalate, high-density polyethylene, vinyl, low density polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene resins, polystyrene (thermocol), non-oven polypropylene, multi layered co extruder, poly propylene, poly terephthalate, poly amides, poly methyl methacrylate, plastic micro beads, etc.
The ban covers the whole State of Maharashtra for manufacture, usage, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale and storage and import of the following products:
- Plastic bags
- Disposable plastic items like spoons, forks, cups, glasses, containers
- Disposable thermocol items like plates, glasses, bowls, and containers
- Non-woven polypropylene bags
- Plastic pouches for storing liquid
- Plastic wrap used for packaging or storing products
- Plastic packaging for food items
- Plastic and thermocol decorations
This ban is applicable to every person, body of person, government and non-government organization, educational institution, sport complex, clubs, cinema halls and theatres, marriage/celebration halls, industrial units, commercial institutions, offices, pilgrimage organisers, pilgrimages and religious places, hotels, dhabas, shopkeepers, malls, vendors or sellers, traders, manufacturers, caterer, wholesalers, retailers, stockiest, businessmen, hawkers, salesmen, transporters, market, producers, stalls, tourist places, forest & reserved forest, eco-sensitive areas, all sea beaches, all public places, bus stands, railway stations, says the notification.
Which items are exempt from the ban?
The Maharashtra government has exempted the following from the plastic ban:
- Plastic bags or plastic used for packaging of medicines;
- Compostable plastic bags or material used for plant nurseries, horticulture, agriculture, handling of solid waste.
- Plastic and plastic bags for export purpose only, in the Special Economic Zone and export-oriented units.
- The plastic used for handling of solid waste (for example garbage used at homes).
- Plastic cover or plastic to wrap material used at the manufacturing stage or is an integral part of manufacturing.
- Food grade virgin plastic bags not less than 50-micron thickness used for packaging of milk.
Milk bags and water bottles
Plastic milk pouches will have to be more than 50 microns thick and should be recyclable. However, on such plastic bags used for this purpose, the price for buyback should be clearly printed. It simply means you can take your empty milk bags back to the seller in return for which he will pay you back Rs 0.50.
All PET bottle manufacturers, producers, sellers and traders under the ‘extended producers and sellers/traders responsibility’ will have to develop a ‘buyback depository mechanism’ with a predefined buyback price printed specifically on each bottle.
As a result, consumers will have to pay Rs 1 and Rs 2 extra above the MRP for buying PET bottles of 500 ml and 1 litre respectively. Plastic bottles with a capacity of less than half a litre have been banned completely.
Penalty for violation of ban
Fine for violating the ban will be Rs 5,000 for the first offence, Rs 10,000 for the second and Rs 25,000 for the third offence or a three-month jail term or both. Manufacturers, on the other hand, stand to lose their license.
Panel rejects BMC demand to slash plastic ban fine
The law panel of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has rejected the civic body’s demand to reduce the minimum fine proposed for violating plastic ban from Rs 5000 to Rs 200.
“Fine for 1st offence Rs 5000. Fine for 2nd Offence Rs 10000. Fine for subsequent offence Rs 25000 and 3 months imprisonment. For non-compliance with provisions of Maharashtra Non-biodegradable Garbage Control Act 2006 offence can be registered in COURT,” Deputy Municipal Commissioner Nidhi Choudhari tweeted.
200 officers to keep an eye on plastic ban offenders
BMC has assigned as many as 200 officials across the city licensed to take action against the plastic ban offenders. The officials will be spread across all the 24 wards in the city and will have uniforms licensed by the corporation. The corporation has released a list of 200 officials assigned by the BMC and their contact details.
The move is to enable the plastic ban which will be enforced from June 23 after which the civic body will start taking punitive action.
Three of the civic body will be responsible for the implantation the plastic ban,
- The Markets department which will inspect 200 BMC markets.
- The shops and establishments-department which will keep an eye on shops.
- The license department will keep eye on street hawkers and vendors.
Retail shop owners claim that they have been exempted from the ban
While the plastic ban’s deadline nearing, the retail shop owners have claimed that the plastic ban will not be applicable to them. The President of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) has said, “It is good to know that we can continue to use plastic, it is a big relief, although we support the plastic ban. However, the government has still not provided a durable alternative to plastic in the long run.”
Not the first time
This is not the first time that the Maharashtra government has imposed a ban on plastics. According to the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable (Control) Act, 2006, the use of plastic bags less than 50 microns is prohibited in the state.
App for the plastic ban
With an aim to answering queries related to the plastic ban, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has now launched an app ‘Plastic Bandi’. This app is available in Android and will be launched on iOS.
Who is in charge of the ban?
Municipal Commissioners, Deputy Municipal Commissioners, Shops and Establishment Officers and Inspectors, Sanitary Inspector, Health Inspector, Health Officer, Ward Officers. District Collector, Deputy Collector, Sub-Divisional Officer, Tahasildar, Talathi. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, Health, Education, Police officials, Traffic Police, District Supply Officer, State Tax officials, Range Forest Officers have been authorised to implement the regulations.
Other states in India where plastic ban has been implemented
Apart from Maharashtra, Bengaluru, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan has the plastic ban imposed.
Following are the 11 states that have partial bans on the use of plastic bags around sites of religious, historical or natural importance, or during the pilgrimage season — Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Helpline for plastic ban
The BMC has set up a toll-free helpline (1800-222-357) for citizens so that they can collect banned plastic and hand it over to garbage collectors.