The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has issued special guidelines to wedding and banquet halls, classified as bulk waste generators, in the city.
In an order issued to th ese bulk generators on September 7, the civic body has issued guidelines on adhering to the plastic ban, apart from providing certain on-site facilities to those who are r enting out the space.
The order reiterates that segregation of waste is mandatory and that the waste shall not be mixed, stored or disposed in plastic bags. The owners of the hall are not permitted to use any of the items covered under the plastic ban, including plastic carry bags, polypropylene bags, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, plastic straws, cling wrap, and plastic sheets for spreading on the tables.
On-site facilities such as plate banks, RO water dispensers, dishwashing facilities, and adequate bins that are appropriately colour coded for collection of dry waste, wet waste, and sanitary waste must be provided.
That apart, only empanelled vendors should be used for disposal of waste. The plate banks, depending on the size of the hall, must include adequate stock of steel, ceramic or melamine plates, spoons, and cups. The plate banks should be supported with hygienic washing of the cutlery by setting up of a commercial size dishwashing facility that also ensures reduction of water wastage.
Safety of waste workers
The order also makes a special mention of safety of waste workers. It states that all waste workers should be provided with aprons, gloves, footwear, and any other protective equipment for collecting, storing, and processing the waste.
The owners and management of these halls have been directed to include these in the terms and conditions at the time of renting out the space, besides ensuring that these guidelines are adhered to by both the customers and caterers. In case of non-compliance, the management will be held responsible, the order states.
Ban paper cups, say waste management experts
Plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, plastic straws, etc are banned. However, waste management experts are still not entirely happy. They point out the problems caused by paper cups and arecanut palm plates.
Both are single-use, disposable items that are continued to be used abundantly. The problems, they say, lie in the fact that both take a long time to biodegrade, which puts a lot of pressure on the existing solid waste management systems.
Though the government recently issued an order banning the use of disposable items and plastic water bottles in all government programmes, meetings and offices, there is no mention of either paper cups or arecanut palm plates.
N.S. Ramakanth, member of the BBMP’s SWM Expert Committee, said the committee and a few other experts have been engaging in a dialogue with the Department of Environment and Forests, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, and the BBMP to include paper cups and arecanut palm plates in the ban.
SWM expert Smitha Kulkarni said paper cups were still in the grey area. “There are not many recycling options for the paper cups. Currently, only one company has the specialised treatment facility to recycle paper cups in the city,” she said.
Incidentally, even the BBMP still relies on paper cups. Thousands of paper cups are used every time the BBMP council meetings are held. D. Randeep, BBMP’s Special Commissioner (SWM), told The Hindu that the civic body was obligated to follow the government’s order on ban of plastic. “As a first step, we have banned the use of plastic bottles. We have also directed officials to bring their own steel or copper bottles for water,” he said, and added that the civic body would soon invest in setting up a plate bank as well. “We will explore the options for replacing the paper cups soon,” he said.
Are paper cups bad for the environment?
Paper cups are single-use, disposable cups that are made out of paper and are lined either with a film of plastic or wax. This is done to prevent any leakage. Waste management experts point out that since the plastic lining in the cups slows down the biodegration process, paper cups are bad for the environment. Paper cups can be recycled only at specialised treatment facilities, which are few in number.