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Updated: June 21, 2011 11:30 IST

Price of old newspapers shoots up following ban on plastic bags

Staff Reporter
Comment (14)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
PAPER MONEY: It is good times for raddiwalas too as paper mills are buying old newspapers for a higher price. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar
The Hindu
PAPER MONEY: It is good times for raddiwalas too as paper mills are buying old newspapers for a higher price. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

Big demand for paper and paper bags in happy fallout

Selling old newspapers is a tedious job but someone's got to do it. However, those volunteering for it come back with fatter wallets these days. For, the ban on plastic covers of less than 40 microns has pushed up old newspaper prices. So your neighbourhood raddiwala now forks out Rs.10 to Rs.11 a kilo. To think that you were getting just Rs. 5 to Rs. 7 per kg three months ago!

Higher and higher

So why has this happened? On March 15 this year, the civic authorities banned those flimsy plastic covers saying they were a veritable hazard to the environment. Unable to use cheap, thin plastic covers less than 40 microns thick, several shopkeepers have substituted them with paper bags. Hence, the demand for old newspapers and magazines has risen considerably. The prices of notebooks and magazines have also risen similarly.

Paper prices are only bound to increase further, predict the raddiwalas, as awareness and implementation of the ban take root. Not that they are complaining. It's good times for them too. For, old newspapers are also purchased by paper mills, which recycle them into sheets of fresh, new paper which spiffy retail outlets turn into bags.

‘Business is good'

N. Kalavathi, who owns Balaji Paper Corner in Malleswaram, said their business of purchasing old newspapers and selling it to paper mills has begun seeing better days. “Business has really picked up. Previously, we used to earn around Rs. 5,000 a month but now because of the great demand for old newspapers, we are earning up to Rs. 10,000,” she beamed.

Balakrishna, owner of Paper Mart, said the plastic cover ban has proved to be good not only for the environment but also for business.

So are there any long faces in this scenario? Certainly. Shopkeepers now have to spend more on carry bags. “Our profit margins have gone down a little because of this ban. And in this business, even a small amount counts,” said Babu, who sells bananas in the Vijayanagar market. He spends Rs. 20 every day on waste paper to wrap bananas.

Difficult customers

Small businesses face other problems too.

“Even if we try to use paper bags, some customers insist on plastic covers because they are stronger and rainproof. The Government should first penalise the public for using these plastic covers,” grumbled a grocer in Vyalikaval, who continues to use the banned plastic covers.

Really good to hear such a news.People at all the level like the producers of carry bags, the shopkeepers who sell things in the carry bags as well as the consumers who insist on having the things they purchase put in a new carry bag, all of them should be made to spent additional amount for each carry bag.The producers of the carry bags should be made to pay extra taxes and all,this will make carry bags more expensive so that shopkeepers will have to spend extra money for each carry bag.Then they will not give the carry bags for free to each customer.And then more and more customers will carry a bag with them when they go out for shopping,for as long as people get carry bags for free from the shops they will not take the pain to carry a bag with them.Also something should be done so that each and every thing in that we get at the supermarket and stores won't come wrapped in plastic.

from:  Ashwathy
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 15:17 IST

Creating awareness alone never solves a problem, any problem, unless backed & enforced strictly by a law. Why is it that when it comes to matters of revenue the government goes out of its way to ensure the law is enforced wheareas it bothers a fig when it comes to issues related to public wellbeing, health and safety!
The government doesn't just create an awareness to pay taxes like those on income or sales and leave the violaters. Rather, it pays fat checks and employs a large army of staff to ensure not only collection but also severe penalties including incarceration for violaters. Why isn't the same zeal shown towards issues oncerning public welfare and environmental. I am yet to see the 'No Smoking' ban being implemented and was frustrated to see people smoking at the entrance of a reputed children hospital as I stood there with my toddler, helpless from the attack of the poisonous smoke! I am yet to see a single auto rickshaw driver charge by the much hyped E-meters.

from:  F. Riazuddin
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 12:15 IST

@Rahul- It is in a way a right move by the shopkeeper. (s)He keeps the plastic bag because he knows some people don't get it on their way to the shop for many reason. (s)He charging for the bag is a form of disincentive for the use of fresh plastic covers while it encourages regulars to carry their own shopping covers/bags (therefore moving to a long-term solution as the bags actually have a longer life, depending upon initial use) to the store and carry their purchases. Over a period of time, demand for the plastics reduce significantly and production of plastic covers in large quantities will be discontinued. So don't you think it is a good idea for a shopkeeper to charge for plastic covers?

from:  Chakri
Posted on: Jun 22, 2011 at 16:28 IST

There is no use of ban on plastic bags if shopkeepers still keep plastic bag and charge rs 1 to 4 from people who don't get their bag. It should be completely banned and no shop should be allowed to keep plastic bags.

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Jun 22, 2011 at 01:03 IST

People will use plastics as long as they are available. We need to give incentives for alternate materials- like making colourful cloth bags or paperbags more common, keeping the quality of plastic bags good and at a high cost. The disposable water bottles and ballpens are a big menace too. In Europe when softdrinks are sold in disposable bottles a substantial extra-money is collected per each bottle, that is returned by the stores when the bottles are returned for re-use and recycle. The more viable option to control plastics is by controlling their production and distribution rather than making rules for the consumers, as rules are not fairly observed in our country as a rule.

from:  Saadi
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 18:06 IST

It is indeed a welcome change. Charging customers for plastic bag will not work in Indian Retail System because smaller shops would use this as a differentiating factor to lure customers. Moreover,it is hard to decide on the cost price per plastic bag especially with the fading denomination of 25 or 50 paisa. Instead banning production of plastic covers and encouraging bigger retail giants to use paper or jute bags would be practically viable. How many of our moms or neighbor 'aunties' have this insatiable lure for collecting plastic cover and plastic sweet boxes ??When there are no more plastic bags/sweet boxes available, then people can no longer collect it. And schools can particpate and change the mindset of our younger generation not ONLY by encouraging them to insist usage of paper but encourage them to collect old newspapers from their home/neighborhood and asking them to donate to their 'chosen' NGO who make paper bags. This also becomes another form of charity!!

from:  Aishwarya Krishnan
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 16:57 IST

Well , in the west supermarkets charge for plastics but paper bags are free and they also offer good discounts on many products. However here supermarkets sell stuff mostly on their MRPs. What I am trying to say is we shouldnt compare our retail scene with the west and give the shopkeepers a free run by not asking for plastic bags. We may ask for reusable bags which should be provided free by the shopkeepers and no we need not carry bags like the 80s. One more thing in supermarkets even if we do carry bags people may suspect us of shoplifting. For local vegetable markets and ration shops we carry bags but for super markets no we dont need to carry them and they ought to give us bigger better bags free.

from:  Cibi
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 16:23 IST

Instead, Govt Should ban the manufacturing companies of Plastic and should not give the license to produce the plastic. We, the Govt always will not cut the root of it on any problem. They can impose ban only at the user level and not at the production level. Pathetic strategy.

from:  Swami
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 15:59 IST

This is good to hear.

from:  Jayaprakash
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 15:31 IST

I think the government is doing correct. Lets just go back to a decade or 2, there was a time, we used to take a bag from home to market to purchase whether groceries or any other. I personally feel that the older days were far far better than modern days, everything we think of reuse, reuse. Nowadays, we feel shy of doing the same, and we feel status symbol to use plastic bags, gloves, paper napkins, etc, we consume more & more, we do not bother or observe how to destroy or recycle the used articles. Nowadays, the western countries are try to adapt to the same methodologies, that we used to observe those days, whereas we are leaving those habits and end up creating more and more garbage, of plastics or electronics.

from:  Phanee
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 15:19 IST

I totally agree with the grocer. It is the people who is pushing the shop keepers for the plastic bags.We don't really think of the effect of a small plastic bag on the enviroinment but we mind only its ease and simplicity. I think,before enacting these kind of laws people must be made understand its importance and necessity.

from:  Hariharan Venkat
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 14:10 IST

This is an issue I feel very strongly about. The only way to dissuade people from using plastic bags is to make them pay for it, and veritably ensure that shopkeepers would also pay more to buy only standard plastic bags. I have observed this in shops and supermarkets, people who come even in cars do not make an effort of carrying a bag of their own, and insist on a plastic bag for their purchase. In Europe, shops and supermarkets do not hand out plastic bags free, and this really forces people to bring their own bags. I really do request people reading this to carry your own bags when you shop, and do YOUR little bit to save the environment.

from:  luhar sen
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 12:41 IST

The real problem with plastic is that it is not reused as much as it can be. Most families have about 20-50 bags lying around for no reason. We need to learn to carry our own plastic bags to bring back goods from the store more than a few times. Then this menace of plastic waste will come to manageable levels.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 12:14 IST

Instead of banning millions of consumers its better to ban hundreds of producers

from:  Deepak
Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 at 11:55 IST
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