Two more states join anti-plastic bandwagon

After Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, now Himachal Pradesh and Odisha have reined in on thermocol and plastic

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 11 July 2018

Himachal Pradesh and Odisha have joined Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh in deciding to take steps against plastic pollution by imposing bans on plastic and thermocol.

On July 7, Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Acharya Devvrat, issued a notification banning thermocol cutlery, including cups, plates, glasses and spoons or any other item in the state. The notification also has provision for imposing penalty on people selling and littering thermocol cutlery.

The notification comes a month after Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur launched the “Plastic Hatao Himachal Bachao” campaign on the World Environment Day.

The notification is according to the Himachal Pradesh Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 1995, that governs the management of non-biodegradable waste.

As per the notification, manufacturers and retailers of thermocol have been given three months to dispose of their stocks.

After the proposed deadline, heavy fines will be levied on individuals found using them. The proposed fine amount depending on quantity will include Rs 3,000 (501gm to 1kg), Rs 10,000 (1.1kg to 5kg), Rs 20,000 (5.1kg to 10 kg) and Rs 25,000 (More than 10 kg).

Himachal Pradesh was the first state in the country to ban plastic and polythene carry bags in 2009. In 2011, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had also banned the single-use plastic plates, packed materials, cups and glasses, but this was later challenged in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, on July 10, the Odisha government ordered a ban on the use of plastic bags, polythene and single-use plastic in the state starting from Gandhi Jayanti in October.

The ban will come into force in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Behrampur, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Puri from October 2. Over the next two years, the ban will be enforced across the entire state.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made the announcement to ban plastic in Odisha as part of the newly-started “Ama Mukhyamantri, Ama Katha” (Our Chief Minister, our issues) programme.

While the Odisha government’s Housing and Urban Development Department will enforce the ban in municipal corporations and urban local bodies, the Panchayati Raj Department will enforce it in Odisha’s rural areas. The Forest and Environment Department will oversee the plastic pollution-control measures in the entire state.

Earlier this year, the Maharashtra government had issued a notification, imposing a ban on the manufacture, use, sale and distribution of all plastic materials like plastic bags, spoons, plates, bottles and thermocol items.

Last week, the Uttar Pradesh government announced a ban on plastic, which will be implemented in the state from July 15. The Telangana government has also instructed municipal bodies across the state against using plastic.

But will the slew of bans really make a difference? Swati Singh Sambyal, Programme Manager, Municipal Solid Waste, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) told Down To Earth: “Bans are enforced to trigger behavioural change among the public and make them discard a product that has been causing environmental damage. Plastic and Styrofoam are such products. They are non-biodegradable and being used in large quantities. In such situations, a ban is important. However, states should do something for behaviour change on the ground in the lead-up and in the aftermath of a ban. Take the example of Delhi. It banned plastic two years ago. Authorities monitored the implementation of the ban for 2-3 months. After that, all was forgotten. A ban should be properly thought out to make the public switch to alternatives. For instance, plastic carry bags are very cheap. In comparison, cloth and jute bags are expensive. If the government bans plastic carry bags, it should figure out modalities for low-income groups in advance. It should subsidise alternatives. For instance, cloth waste can be picked up and converted into bags. These can then be distributed among poorer sections to make them switch over.”

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