Cloth bag vending machine at Collectorate complex remains switched off

Published - June 25, 2024 10:09 pm IST - TIRUCHI

A cloth bag vending machine at the railway junction in Tiruchi on Tuesday.

A cloth bag vending machine at the railway junction in Tiruchi on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: M. MOORTHY

The cloth bag vending machine installed at the Collectorate complex in Tiruchi last year in a bid to curtail the use of plastic bags,remains switched off due to a lack of refill stock.

The machine, put in place in March 2023 as part of an initiative by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) at a cost of ₹1.4 lakh, was developed by a Chennai-based company, with the help of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding from Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL).

The machine would dispense a cloth bag measuring around 12 inches wide upon depositing ₹10. Only coins in the denomination of ₹5 or ₹10 are accepted. The machine has the capacity to dispense 100 bags.

After a successful debut, the machine seems to have run out of bags, and at present can be seen in a non-functioning state in the Collectorate’s reception area.

When contacted, a senior TNPCB official told The Hindu that women’s self-help groups functioning under the government’s Mahalir Thittam scheme had been enlisted to stitch and supply the cotton cloth bags for the vending machine. The official added that the issue would be looked into immediately.

An upgraded bag vending machine was commissioned by TNPCB in November last year at the Tiruchi Railway Junction, with CSR funding by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited. The internet-enabled apparatus, which allows cash and digital payments, dispenses yellow coloured cloth bags at ₹20 apiece and can store 500 bags at a time.

Plastic carrier bags have made a comeback despite several campaigns against their usage. Environmentalists in the city said that more stringent measures are needed to replace plastic with eco-friendly options.

“Cloth bag dispensers in public places are a good idea, but the authorities have to ensure that they continue to function over the long term, in order to be beneficial,” said activist K.C. Neelamegam.

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