First day of single-use plastic ban: Less awareness, no enforcement

Used plastic materials dumped at Palace grounds in Bengaluru on Friday.

Used plastic materials dumped at Palace grounds in Bengaluru on Friday. | Photo Credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) may have declared that single-use plastic (SUP) items cannot be used from July 1, but in various parts of the city, SUP usage went on as usual owing to a lack of awareness.

Every business had its own kind of problem with the ban of SUP. For instance, pharmacists cannot sell earbuds which come with plastic sticks anymore. “The remaining stock which has come with plastic sticks will be returned to the distributors free of cost and then we will place an order for those with wooden sticks,” said Anand, who works at a medical store. 

Sahil, a printout vendor in HSR Layout, said, “I came to know about the ban only yesterday (Thursday). At our printing shop, we will have to stop plastic lamination and directly hand over marks cards and other documents to the customers. The initiative taken by the government is good, only if it is implemented properly”.

There is also the confusion of what is permitted and what is not, as some dairy stall owners wonder what they should do about the plastic packets of milk, curd, and other items. “The plastic for bread and milk packets is given by the government itself. We do not know what step to take ahead. As for the plastic milk bottles, they will be replaced by the glass bottles,” said a vendor.

At another Nandini milk parlour, B.R. Manjunath, who worked at a Nandini outlet in Basavanagudi, said that they have stopped giving out straws with their products like buttermilk or flavoured milks for months now. He too had doubts about the plastic packets which the products come in. 

What will vendors do
Ban on single-use plastic came into effect on July 1, 2022 | Video Credit: Adithi Holla & Samhitha B S

The worst-affected seemed to be hawkers for whom the search for an alternative is a cause of worry as paper or cloth bags cost more than plastic bags. Many of them gave away plastic bags on Friday, while even customers, who were not aware of the ban, demanded the bags. “These bans keep coming and going. We spend money to buy paper bags and then after a few days, no one will care about it. I will not buy alternatives in bulk, at least for now,” said Devanna, a fruit seller in Seshadripuram. 

“I only got to know about the ban after some customer told me,” said Raja, a fruit vendor in Chamarajapet. “We have been using these covers for a long time and it is becoming difficult for us to implement an alternative. This decision might be a good one, but it affects vendors like us,” he added. 

Shyamalamma, a flower trader in Gandhi Bazaar, also complained that the alternative was very expensive. She was unsure of what to do with the purchased packets of bags. “Each paper bag costs around ₹15-20 per piece, but plastic carry bags at retail were available at ₹2 per piece. Now why would I spend so much while I already have these plastic bags,” she asked. 

The tender coconut sellers, whose businesses primarily depend on straws, think that the alternative paper straw will not work out for them at all.

“Not only are they costly, they also get soggy easily,” said Mahadeva, a seller in Basavanagudi. He added that although he does not have a choice now because of the ban, he will continue to give plastic straws until the stock gets over.

Many other shops in the locality said that they either have to give out plastic bags, use wrapping films until the stocks get over, or lose out on the money they have spent on these items.

Apart from this, sweet corn sellers, juice, and ice cream centres, small eateries which sell coffee and tea were all seen using plastic cutlery across the city.

However, BBMP Marshalls or any other KSPCB officers were not spotted at most commercial places until Friday evening. But in K.R. Market, traders reported that Marshals visited the area and seized plastic bags from vegetable and flower traders. 

Cost of alternatives to be borne by customers 

The extra cost of alternative paper/cloth bags is now being imposed on the customers at most medium and large-scale shops. “If someone wants a bag, we charge them for it. So, the differential cost of alternatives isn’t borne by us,” said a cloth store in south Bengaluru.

He explained how this incentivises people to carry their own bags.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 6:37:43 am |