‘Managing’ The Plastic Ban

Monday, 18 January 2021



‘Managing’ The Plastic Ban

Swapnil Bharali | September 28, 2019 17:05 hrs

Come 2nd October and single-use plastic products are set to be banned – nationwide. I am sure Guwahati will be no exception and the administration will take steps for proper enforcement of the ban. This would essentially mean that plastic bags, straws, coffee and cocktail stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging would disappear from our lives. Exceptional idea and much needed too in Guwahati. Remember our clogged drains? Nothing but plastic comes out from them.
The point of concern however is what these extremely useful items are going to be replaced with.

Let’s take the garbage bag used in the kitchen for example. The plastic bag has humbly accepted both dry and wet kitchen waste into its fold without offering any possibility of leakage or seepage and thereafter, the convenience of dumping the full bag into the local garbage bins for the GMC to clear it out. And this is the universal practice; plastic bags are used for kitchen waste worldwide. What on earth could possibly replace it? Certainly not paper.

Plastic bottles of drinking water available liberally all across the city is another product that has become a habit. Another universal phenomenon. What could possibly replace this item? Certainly not glass.

Without wanting to term the ban itself as a bad idea that has germinated from wanting to clean up the country under the Swachh Bharat banner, I would venture to say that this is another instance of putting the cart before the horse simply because no one seems to know what to replace these items of great utility with. Clearly, paper replacing plastic would be catastrophic to the environment because we can well imagine the number of extra trees that will need to be cut down to replace all that plastic that we use, with paper. And water bottles made from glass? Simply not the greatest idea in terms of cost and handiness. Further, what about the whole packaging industry that uses plastic which keeps prices of commodities under check? Jute bags are no solution in all instances of commodity packaging.

But the government just has to take the easy way out at the expense of public convenience. Let’s make it clear that it is plastic management that is required and not plastic ban. The government needs to do all the hard work it can towards that end.

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