These new plastic bags have been widely circulated in the two places where the ban came into effect from September 15.

The ban on the use of plastic carry bags in Moodbidri and Mulky – which came into effect on September 15 – has led to circulation of a form of carry bags which are made of plastic.

These new plastic bags have been widely circulated in the two places where the ban came into effect from September 15. The new carry bags are in different sizes and colours and are priced in the range between Rs. 5 and Rs. 15. While a shopkeeper said the new carry bags were produced from an agent, who gets it from Gujarat, another shopkeeper said they get the bags from a unit in Baikampady.

It too is plastic

A test of the sample by the Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology on the directions of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) in September revealed the bag to be made of polypropylene, a recyclable thermoplastic, which though considered to be “low to moderately hazardous” by the Environment Working Group has the danger of leaching out chemicals.

“It is a form of plastic. Its effects are the same as plastics,” said N. Lakshman, Environment Officer, KSPCB. However, he said, that as a “temporary” measure, these bags work well to counter a below 40 microns plastic ban. “Most people tend to throw away plastic carry bags, but, they reuse these polypropylene bags because of their toughness. This way, plastic consumption is reduced, while these thicker bags are easier to pick out in a dump. So till an eco-friendly alternative is found, these bags will do,” said Mr. Lakshman.

The main aim of the bag was for the public to rid its dependence on disposable plastics and instead encourage them to recycle existing products – using boxes or steel containers to collect groceries and food items, making carry bags out of torn clothes or saris, he said.

Administration aware

Agreeing that the new carry bags were made of plastic, Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda said instructions had been given to the Chief Officers of Moodbidri Town Municipal Council (TMC) and the Mulky Town Panchayat to educate people not to use the new carry bags. “Circulation of these new carry bags will be phased out,” he said.

Orders had been placed for cloth bags, which would be circulated in the two places and in other parts of Mangalore taluk, he saded. Moodbidiri TMC Chief Officer Rayappa said each cloth bag would cost Rs. 8 and it would last one year.

Unaware of the presence of plastic in it, people in Moobidri and Mulky had developed liking for the new carry bags that had been widely sold although ones like Abdul Khader, a vegetable seller from Mulky, said they cost more. Since the use of paper had gone up, the rates of old newspapers had gone up to Rs. 12 a kg.

For Abdul Rehman, a resident of Mulky, the ban brought about revival of the old way of shopping — people started baskets for bringing vegetables and groceries.

A trend-setter

The ban on the use of plastic carry bags had not made much difference to Ramesh Sanila, the owner of the small eatery – Hotel Raghavendra – off Padmavati Road near Moodbidri Vegetable Market.

Mr. Sanila had stopped use of plastic carry bags for two years now. “Packing food articles in plastic bags is harmful and I decided against its use.” Sanila and his hotel staff have been using plantain leaves and newspaper to wrap vada, dosa, and podis along with chutney. “We give sambar only if the customer brings a steel vessel or a tumbler,” he said. Mr. Sanila said newspaper agents had been regularly providing him with old newspapers.