The ban on single-use plastic that was enforced by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation(GVMC) appears to be going in the right direction.
Addressing a press conference here on Friday, GVMC Commissioner G. Lakshmisha said that the city generates around 400 tonnes of plastic waste every day of which around 200 tonnes comprise single-use plastic or plastic or polythene bags that cannot be recycled. “But since the implementation of the ban, the total plastic waste has come down by around 200 tonnes, which is significant and in the coming day with the cooperation of the citizens and others, I am sure that Visakhapatnam will become a plastic-free city,” he said.
Giving further account of the success story so far, he said that in the city there are about 40,000 trade licence holders, who use plastic bags for supplying things to the customers. “Our earlier survey suggested that each of the licence holders were giving away at least 15 plastic bags that were below 75 microns on a daily basis, but our latest survey suggests that the daily count has now come down to two,” Mr. Lakshmisha said.
Thanking people and traders for their support and commitment, he said that from now the enforcement would be much stronger.
“From Friday (June 17), we have made it mandatory that all the 40,000 trade licence holders will have to paste or stick the ‘no plastic bags’ poster or the sticker that is being supplied by the GVMC at their shops. Failing that, GVMC will close down their shops,” he warned.
The shop owners can also design their own posters and they should also maintain a stock paper and cloth bags. People also should not be seen carrying single-use plastic bags to shops. “We are also asking auto-rickshaw and taxi owners and drivers to paste the ‘no plastic’ sticker on their vehicles,” he added.
To scale up the awareness campaign by a few notches, the Commissioner announced an IEC (Information, education and communication) campaign for the people.
People who come out with a good slogan on ‘say no to plastic’, a skit, a song, street plays or a good sticker or any IEC activity, will be selected for top three prizes, he said.
The entry starts from Friday and it will remain open till the month-end. One can email their entries to email@example.com, he said.
For the industries, public sector units and NGOs, GVMC has also launched the ‘cloth bag challenge’ contest.
Industries, PSUs and NGOs who promote ‘say no to plastic’ and take up the cloth bag challenge by promoting unique ways of developing and distributing cloth bags will also be considered for the top three prizes in this category.
A similar contest is launched for schools, colleges and offices. If they promote the use of paper pens and make their campus plastic-free they will be graded and prizes will be given. Similarly, there is also a contest for residential welfare associations, gated communities and housing societies.
Referring to a question on imposing a ban on industries that manufacture plastic bags, Mr. Lakshmisha said that a letter has been sent to the District Collector and Department of Industries. But he also added that there were no such industries in Visakhapatnam district and most of the plastic bags were being imported from the neighbouring districts.
He also said that GVMC would encourage startups who come up with small units for manufacturing cloth and paper bags.