After complain about the illegal mass burning of plastic at Delhi, the government took immediate step and banned disposable plastic items in whole National Capital Territory (NCT) areas of Delhi. (1) India generates around 54 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually and contribute around 60 percent of plastic waste dumped into the ocean. Moreover, some experts estimate that India will increase to 165 million tonnes of annual waste by 2030. (2)
Plastic bags are non-biodegradable products i.e. they do not decay. It takes thousands of years before one plastic bag can turn into small particles. Plastic bags are made of various chemicals i.e. xylene, ethylene oxide and benzene which are very harmful to the health and the environment, even they are key contributors to various diseases and disorder in human. (3) Many chemical additives that gave plastic desirable performance properties also have negative environmental and human health effects. (4) (6)
Toxic chemicals of plastic bags are released whether by burning or throwing which directly or indirectly cause harm to the society. (3) Plastic waste is deceptive for birds and other wildlife, who mistake it for food can die of starvation. (5) A report suggests that “the amount of plastic manufactured in the first ten years of this century eclipse the total produced in the entire last century”. The report also suggests, about 8 percent of world oil production goes to manufacturing plastic. (6)
In spite of Government initiatives to ban plastic bags in some states like Bengaluru, Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal etc. since 2009-2010, (7) the traders, manufactures and even public protests against the ban. (8) (9) With the planning to eliminate around 25 percent of plastic bags containing less than 50 microns from Delhi, (10) National Green Tribunal has imposed fines of Rs.5000, if caught carrying a plastic bag in Delhi. (11)
The present scenario in sub-urban is worse:
A study conducted from sub-urban areas from sample size (randomly selected) of 1,000 small trades, fast food, sweet, vegetables, grocery, pharmacy store owners in Hooghly, Howrah and South 24 Parganas Districts in West Bengal from 19th Sep. to 3rd Oct. 2017. The collecting distribution of data is as follows:
|S. No.||Municipality (sub-urban)||No. of Respondents|
Shockingly, every respondent (100 percent) was still providing plastic bags (below 50 microns) and around 82 percent used plastic bags below 20 microns to the customers for at least last one year. Fast food stores (97 percent) were wrapping food in plastic bags which were less than 20 microns. To make situation worse, most of curry, rice, dal etc. were provided/packed in plastic bags (20 microns) at around 30 to 70 degrees Celsius temperature. The study also found that public while shopping, encouraged shopkeepers to give plastic bags.
After inquiring from few shopkeepers, according to them to carry purchased items, public demands carry bags which in turn results circulation of carry bags in market. On an average, minimum 180 carry bags (below 20 microns) were circulated from per fast food store per day. After enquiring about environmental consequence, they started suggesting us about other man-made pollution in their locality. It felt that they were trying to avoid the pollution free topic and focused more on business revenues as according to them if they stop offering carry bags to customers they may lose many customers. Also, most of them suggested in this financial ups and downs situation losing customers may bring divesting results to their business.
However, it felt that most of respondents know the consequences of using of plastic bags in our daily life was affecting both human and environment. In past local government and even market committees had taken initiatives to ban plastic bags but only for sort term. It was the pressure from market competition and public they were bound to offer plastic bags. Moreover, every store owners agreed that providing plastic bags for products increases cost. Hence, this leads in search for low quality plastic bags (less than 20 microns).
The other side of the story:
After analyzing the situation from one side, another study was conducted to find the other side of the problem, the public or the consumer side as government had recently allotted Rs.7856 crores (2016-17) on Swatch Bharat Abhiyaan and already spend 9370 crores in 2015-16 out of 742 crores spend on West Bengal. (12) A response from the sample of 1000 people from sub-urban area (distribution of response is same as Table 1) age group from 35 – 50 years was collected.
The study suggests that more than 85 percent of people were aware that plastic bags were bad for human health and environment. The study further suggests that more than 75 percent of respondents would like to stop using plastic bags in future. The study also tries to inquire about the practice of plastic bags in their local market, where it found that the respondents start blaming shopkeepers and also government to a certain extent for making plastic bags available.
The study suggests that the respondents were lack in taking initiatives, as when it is time to take initiatives and actions, every respondent starts blame game. It was a never-ending cycle, and if government tries to breaks, public and trades goes for strikes. (8) (9) If the respondents were inquired for information on local pollution, most people are awake and well informed about his/her environment but if they had been inquired about daily life practice to protect his/her local environment only few positive responses were received.
- Johnston, I. (25th Jan. 2017). India just banned all forms of disposable plastic in its capital. Independence. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-delhi-bans-disposable-plastic-single-use-a7545541.html on 10th Nov. 2017.
- Bhatia, A. (30th June 2017). Plastic Ban: What India Can Learn From Other Countries. NDTV. Retrieved from http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/plastic-ban-india-can-learn-countries-6161/ on 10th Nov. 2017.
- Plastic Bags Pollution – Effects and Solutions. Green Living Bees. Retrieved from http://www.greenlivingbees.com/plastic-bags-pollution-effects-and-solutions/#sthash.Anpkr2nr.dpbs on 10th Nov. 2017.
- Adverse Health Effects of Plastics. Ecology Center. Retrieved from https://ecologycenter.org/factsheets/adverse-health-effects-of-plastics/ on 10th Nov. 2017.
- McGrath, J. Which is more environmentally friendly: paper or plastic?. How stuff works. Retrieved from https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/paper-plastic1.htm on 10th Nov. 2017.
- Fischer, D. (26th Oct. 2017). The environmental toll of plastics. Environmental Health News. Retrieved from http://www.ehn.org/one-nation-two-tribes-opposing-visions-of-us-climate-role-on-show-in-bonn-environment-the-guardian-2508231373.html on 10th Nov. 2017.
- Use of “Plastic Bags” banned in some states in India. (6th April 2010). Infoqueenbee. Retrieved from http://www.infoqueenbee.com/2010/04/uso-of-plastic-bags-banned-in-some.html on 10th Nov. 2017.
- Traders protest plastic bag ban. (02nd April 2010). The Hindu. Retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/Traders-protest-plastic-bag-ban/article16356700.ece on 10th Nov. 2017.
- Rally against plastic ban. (16th March 2016). The Hindu. Retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/rally-against-plastic-ban/article8360442.ece on 10th Nov. 2017.
- Sharma, V. (11th Aug. 2017). Delhi could lose 25% plastic bags if NGT ban is implemented. Hindustan Times. Retrieved from http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/delhi-could-lose-25-plastic-bags-if-ngt-ban-is-implemented/story-NQOgvXtLT0Za755r3Y4bVM.html on 10th Nov. 2017.
- You may have to pay Rs 5,000 if you are caught carrying a plastic bag in Delhi. (10th Aug. 2017). Scroll.in. Retrieved from https://scroll.in/latest/846787/pay-rs-5000-for-possessing-banned-plastic-bags-in-delhi on 10th Nov. 2017.
- How much has the Modi Government spent on Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan? (18th Aug. 2017). Satya Vijayi. Retrieved from https://satyavijayi.com/much-modi-government-spent-swachh-bharat-abhiyaan/ on 10th Nov. 2017.