New Delhi: Markets in the national capital are gearing up for the ban on single-use plastic from July 1 with traders putting up posters outside their establishments asking customers to bring carry bags, and traders’ associations urging the shopkeepers to avoid using banned items.
The associations said they are also organising awareness campaigns to inform all the traders about the single-use plastic (SUPs) ban, and alternative items they can use.
In the latest notification of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2022, issued in February, all states and Union territories (UTs) were directed to phase out SUPs in a planned manner by July 1, 2022.
The identified SUP items include earbuds, plastic sticks for balloons, flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or packaging films around sweets boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, and stirrers.
While many shops in markets like Connaught Place have already switched to environment-friendly alternatives, markets like Sarojini Nagar are facing a hard time implementing the ban, according to traders’ associations.
All the same, they are taking steps to persuade customers and shopkeepers to avoid single-use plastic items
“We are organising an awareness campaign to apprise the shopkeepers. We have handed over a list of banned items to them, said Ashok Randhawa, president of Mini Market Association, Sarojini Nagar.
Many shops have already switched to paper or clothes bags. We are also putting up the posters outside the shops urging customers to bring their own bags,” he said.
At Connaught place, a majority of the shops are already using paper bags or cloths bags.
To Atul Bhargava, who heads the New Delhi Traders Association, it is small vendors who are the cause of concern.
He said small vendors like “chaiwallahs and small eateries” continue to use plastic cups and other cutlery.
“We have informed all our members to remove the banned items, as a clean environment is beneficial for us also,” Bhargava said.
“It is very difficult to keep track of them. As plastic items are cheaper, small vendors use them. We can only educate them, that they move to environment-friendly alternatives,” he said.
Similar concerns were echoed by Randhawa, who said that the profit margin is quite low and there is cutthroat competition among vendors.
“A cloth bag generally coast around 6 rupees while a plastic bag only costs 50 paisa. So shopkeepers prefer plastic. We cannot even upset customers by refusing to provide the bags, so everyone has to take responsibility here from government to vendors to customers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sanjiv Mehra, the president of the Khan Market Traders’ Association, claimed that 99 per cent of the shops in the famous market are using environment-friendly items.
The remaining 1 per cent is constituted by those who cannot afford to switch to paper or cloth bags from plastic bags, he said.
He also expressed discontent that alternatives have not been provided by the government before announcing the ban.
“I understand that you are banning the items for the betterment of the environment but where are the environment-friendly affordable alternatives,” he said.
If one goes by the numbers, the government whip against the plastic menace is a bit misdirected.
According to website Our World in Data, India is among the country which produces the most mismanaged plastic waste.
India contributes to 21.04 per cent of the total mismanaged plastic waste in the world, as per the data published by Our World in Data in 2019, even though it is among the countries with lowest per capita production of plastic waste in the world.
In comparison, the US produces 0.43 per cent of the total mismanaged plastic waste, despite being one of the biggest consumers and manufactures of plastic.