Let Delhi breathe

Hospitals and hotels asked to use degradable plastic

By Kirtiman Awasthi
Published: Monday 15 August 2005

the Delhi Government has made the use of degradable plastic compulsory in the city's hospitals and hospitality sector. It recently issued a notification to this effect. But some experts have criticised the fact that the order applies only to restaurants with a seating capacity of over 100 people and hospitals with over 100 beds. They argue that small nursing homes and restaurants also generate the same kind of waste. But a senior official of Delhi government's Department of Environment (doe) explains: "We don't intend to exclude any one, we are trying to implement the Act in a phased manner." The government is just trying to avoid a sudden demand and supply gap for plastic bags, he adds.

The move has been welcomed by the two sectors; some hotels and hospitals have already started using degradable plastic. "This is a nice step by the government," says Manoj Malik of gm Modi Hospital & Research Centre for Medical Sciences. The hospital is already using paper bags in its pharmacy and degradable plastic bags to dispose off its waste. "Using degradable plastic is not a problem. The problem is disposal of garbage," says a representative at Marriot Welcome Hotel. "The government should take initiative for lifting and dumping of garbage to proper sites." doe says it is formulating a programme for proper dumping of garbage that will involve the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Meanwhile, it is being pointed out that the notification is silent about the grading of the bags and hasn't specified a time span for their degradation. "Plastic bags that can degrade in 3-18 months are available in the capital," says the doe official. "Right now we have notified hospitals and hotels to use bags degradable in one year," he adds. Regarding quality control of degradable plastic, he says: "We are in the process to authorise some laboratory for that and it would be maintained once the hospitals actually start using the bags." The Delhi assembly had passed in December 2004 the Delhi Plastic Bag (Manufacture, Sales and Usage) and Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Amendment Act. It made the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags a punishable offence.

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