A week after a ban on 19 single-use plastic (SUP) items kicked in, many of the banned items, including plastic cups, straws and plates were still seen being used across the city, found The Hindu.
Although a number of shops and roadside carts were using alternatives, their owners complained that the alternatives are costlier. The banned SUP items were spotted at roadside stalls or shops in Raj Ghat, ITO, Ring Road and near Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute.
The 19 SUP items, which were banned from July 1, include plastic and polystyrene cups, spoons, forks, knives, straws and plates, and plastic films over cigarette and sweet boxes.
Sarath*, who sells coconut water near ITO, had two stacks of plastic cups on his hand cart. “When the ban kicked in, I already had over ₹1,000 worth of plastic cups with me. Once I finish this stock, I will switch to paper cups,” he said.
Explaining that paper cups are increasing his expenditure, Mr. Sarath said, “One plastic cup costs me 60-80 paisa and a paper cup will cost me over ₹1.5.”
Mr. Sarath added that officials from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had visited the area two days ago and told him and other vendors to transition out of the banned items by July 10.
At two shops near Raj Ghat, which is about 1 km from the Delhi secretariat, two roadside carts selling lemonade and juice were found to be using plastic cups too, although both of them had paper cups. “This is from my old stock. Also, some customers ask for plastic cups,” said one of the sellers.
When contacted, a Delhi government official said they are currently not focusing on targeting end users. “Our focus currently is to break the manufacture and supply chain of these items. We will eventually shift our focus on end users too,” the official said.
At a shop selling juice and shakes near Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute in north Delhi, shakes were being served in paper cups but with plastic straws.
In Raj Ghat, a seller was spotted using polystyrene plates — one of the 19 banned items — to sell chaat. Cigarette boxes wrapped in thin plastic sheets, another banned product, were also found being sold in different areas of the city.
Need for subsidy
“Right now, alternatives are costlier and it is difficult for people with low incomes to afford them. The government should come up with some incentive or subsidy so that alternatives will be available at the same rate as the plastic items,” Swati Singh Sambyal, Delhi-based waste and circular economy expert.
“This is the reason why a ban on plastic bags below 50 microns also did not work in the past — the alternatives were costlier,” Ms. Sambyal said. She added that the government should focus on the availability and proper channelisation of these alternatives in order to avoid creating a new problem.
Until July 5, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had seized over 1,450 kg of banned SUP items from stockists and sellers, according to data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
(*Names changed to protect identity.)