Bengaluru

Disposable cutlery and packaging make a comeback

Demand for disposable paper cups went up during the lockdown.   | Photo Credit: SampathKumarGP

The pandemic has undone months, if not years, of awareness campaigns on the need to use more eco-friendly options such as steel cutlery and crockery. In the past two months, there has been a shift to disposable items such as paper cups – not all of which are recyclable – plastic containers and spoons.

Even parcel packaging that was slowly moving towards sustainable material has taken a step back with multi-layered aluminium foil and plastic making a comeback. Several supermarkets have taken to wrapping vegetables in plastic in an attempt to make products ‘contact free’.

“People are not ready to drink coffee or tea in reusable tumblers. We also think it is risky to use re-usables in times of COVID-19. So we have shifted to paper cups, plastic containers and spoons,” said Sripad Hegde, who runs a restaurant in north Bengaluru.

However, this only seems a step forward and two steps backward for the city in terms of sustainable solutions, feel solid waste management activists, who were at the forefront of the shift away from disposables. “A disposable item is no guarantee for zero contact. It is a wrong assumption that they will insure you from the risk of contracting the infection,” said Odette Katrak, co-founder, Beautiful Bengaluru.

D. Randeep, Special Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, BBMP, pointed out that there is no guarantee that disposable items are not recycled to find their way again into the market. “While we agree that hygiene and minimising contact is a big concern during the pandemic, going back to disposable items is not the right solution. They remain banned and there has been no relaxation of the norms,” he clarified.

The civic body has been encouraging hotels and other eateries to invest in hygienic solutions such as dishwashers, hot water sterilisers,and ensuring that employees use hand gloves. “There is no replacement for items like steel utensils. The only way out is their proper sterilisation,” he said.

Hotels and restaurants are all set to re-open on June 8. “We have been lenient on enforcement during lockdown, but we will take strict action in a few days,” Mr. Randeep warned.

Activists are urging consumers to carry their own utensils. “That is the only way you can be assured that there has been no contact,” argues Ms. Katrak. Beautiful Bengaluru had started a special campaign on BYOC (Bring Your Own Cup) during the pandemic.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 11:56:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/disposable-cutlery-and-packaging-make-a-comeback/article31741836.ece

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