Govt Indian The United States on Friday banned many types of single-use plastic in an effort to combat waste that floods rivers and poisons the nation’s wildlife, though experts say a lack of manufacturers and consumer reluctance remain a barrier.
Cows grazing on plastic? The picture is normal in many Indian cities. And a study suggests that elephants in the forests of northern Uttarakhand even carry remains in their dung.
India produces about four million tonnes of plastic annually, of which a third ends up in waterways and landfills without being recycled. They often catch fire and increase air pollution.
Half of that waste comes from single-use products. The fact that the new ban wants to end
Products such as plastic bags of specified thickness are currently exempted.
The first ban was introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018, after which officials promised to tighten the rules.
The maximum penalty is 100,000 rupees (1,209 euros, 1,260 USD) or five years in prison.
– A highly relevant success –
Half of India has tried to impose similar measures, but, as the state of rivers and landfills shows, success has been very limited.
Companies in the country’s plastics sector, which employs millions of people, protest that alternatives are expensive and are pressuring the government to postpone the ban.
Bindu, who makes a living by serving customers coconut juice through plastic straws, has been directly affected by the government’s decision.
“It will be difficult to switch to more expensive paper straws. I will have to pass the cost on to customers,” he told AFP in New Delhi.
According to analysts at GlobalData, beverages in cartons with plastic straws represent 35% of soft drink volumes, meaning manufacturers will be hit hard.
“More price-sensitive people can’t afford to pay for green alternatives,” says Bobby Varghese of Global Data.
– “Difficulties” –
Jigish N., chairman of industrial conglomerate Plastindia Trust. Doshi expects there to be “temporary” job losses, but the more serious problem concerns companies that “have invested enormous amounts of capital in machines that are no longer useful.”
“It’s not easy to make different products from machines… The government can help by providing some subsidies and helping to make and buy alternative products,” Doshi told AFP.
For Satish Sinha, from the environmental group Toxics Link, “there will be initial resistance” because it is difficult to find alternative products.
“There will be difficulties and we will have to pay a price, but if we are serious about the environment, this is an important issue that requires a concerted effort,” he says.
Ecoware, a young company playing a role in the transformation, manufactures disposable biodegradable products at its factory outside Delhi.
CEO Rhea Majumdar Singhal explained to AFP that the deplorable state of landfills and the consumption of plastic is what inspired the creation of the company.
“Earlier we had many obstacles, but we as citizens are empowered,” he says.
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