Steps are under way to restrict the use of plastic materials, especially plastic carry bags, as part of implementing the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest's (MoEF) Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 that replaces the earlier Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules 1999. Municipal authorities here had started enforcing the rules which ban the use of plastic carry bags below 40 microns.

Shops and commercial establishments here had been directed to use bags above 40 microns. The initiative is being made as part of improving municipal solid waste management systems envisaged in the rules. The Pollution Control Board (PCB) officials here have already urged municipalities in the district to take steps to implement the rules

that also seek to ensure safe collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste. The local bodies are also tasked to set up collection centres for plastic waste involving manufacturers, ensure safe channellisation of plastic waste to recyclers and prevent open burning of plastic waste, they said. Environmental Engineer of the district PCB here A.M. Sheela said that under the earlier rules the minimum thickness of carry bags was 20 microns. The 40-microns norm has now been made uniform standard to be followed across the country, she said. The new rule had also banned plastic materials in sachets for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala in the wake of the Supreme Court order, she informed. Under the new rules, foodstuffs would not be allowed to be packed in plastic materials, she added. The additional safeguards under the rules include provisions for marking or labelling to indicate name, registration number of the manufacturers of the plastic carry bags, their thickness and whether they are recycled or compostable. The municipalities are required to establish plastic waste collection centres involving the plastic manufacturers. Municipal officials here, however, say that the plastic carry bags being mused here are mostly manufactured outside the State.