Plastic ban in Bangalore from February 19
Come February 19, thin plastic bag manufacturers in the state will shut shop. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has directed 64 registered manufacturers to halt producing bags less than 40 microns thick.
To many Bangaloreans who have been seeing drains getting clogged with filthy plastic bags or landfills full of non-biodegradable plastic, this will come as a huge relief. The board’s move follows a notification from the ministry of environment and forests to implement the plastic waste management rules of 2011 that ban bags below 40 microns. “Now, there is no other option but to stop manufacture of all thin plastic bags as it is a gazette notification. Violators can be taken to court. Even though the notification came into effect on February 4, not many were aware of it. We are informing them to stop manufacturing bags below 40 microns,” said D R Kumaraswamy, environment officer, hazardous waste management cell of KSPCB.
However, he had no idea about the number of illegal manufacturers in the state and whether they knew about the new notification. “As we control the manufacturing side, we also need to make sure that virgin and recycled plastic are not mixed. Also, we need to see that all recycled or compostable plastic are as per BIS standards, as stipulated in the notification,” he added. According to KSPCB, there are no gutka or tobacco packet manufacturers in their list. But if they are in Karnataka, they will be tracked and intimated about the ban of all such sachets.
Ironically, the main implementing authority, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), has no idea about the new rules. As per the notification, they are supposed to ensure safe collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste, and setting up of collection centres for such waste which involve manufacturers. More importantly, no carry bags shall be made available free of cost to consumers. BBMP may determine the minimum price for plastic carry bags. Environmental officers at the Palike said they are not sure about the new rules and need to take advice from KSPCB.
Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999, which banned plastic bags below 20 micron thickness, were not implemented in toto. These thin bags are still sold across the city in kirana stores, vegetable shops and meat stores. Around 14% of total garbage generated is plastic, amounting to 35 to 40 tonnes per day. On the flip side, there is no penalty for thin plastic bags users in the new rules, which weakens management of plastic waste. Also, there has to be rigorous monitoring to get the latest rules implemented strictly.