Kerala

Post-plastic ban, Kudumbashree units see silver lining

Joel Paper Cover, a Kudumbashree unit based at Ayiroor, Pathanamthitta, has seen some fresh orders since the news of a ban on single-use plastic products trickled in. Barring a couple, the remaining are all current customers. The unit, though, is actively looking for new clientele for its paper bags, cake bags, biryani containers, and inner covers used for textiles. The ban has come as a glimmer of hope that it may boost income from mere average to good.

More than 750 Kudumbashree microenterprise units in the State are involved in making eco-friendly alternatives to plastic. The units have continued to function, albeit in a limited way, through COVID-19 and the challenges it posed. Now, their prospects seem brighter since single-use plastics have been banned to mitigate the pollution caused by them. The units have started to receive orders for their eco-friendly products, and have the capacity to meet an increase in demand, say Kudumbashree officials.

Palm-leaf products

It was at the fag end of 2019 that Sree Ayyappa Farm Products at Thottapuzhassery, near Maramon, opened for business. In early 2020, the State banned a host of plastic items, and the going seemed good for the unit that supplied palm-leaf products such as plates and biryani containers to caterers and restaurants. Little did it know that COVID-19 was around the corner. Only now, after the ban, is the unit hopeful that its customers will be forced to give up disposable or plastic tableware and turn to eco-friendly options.

The impact of the plastic ban in the State will be palpable within a year, says Rasiya Madassery, president of Rainbow Cloth Bags, a consortium under the Malappuram Kudumbashree district mission. Establishments, she says, have already started evincing interest in the consortium’s products after hearing of the ban. The consortium that has nearly 100 units under it makes paper and cloth bags, files, school bags, masks, sack-like cloth bags for waste disposal, and so on.

Optimistic

Though it is early days yet, the units are optimistic that demand will pick up once establishments exhaust their plastic stocks. The ban alone will not be enough unless accompanied by awareness creation and strict enforcement, including penalisation, says Manalil Mohanan, coordinator of Hariyali, a society in Vadakara municipality that has engaged 60 women in waste collection and also runs enterprises, one of which manufactures plastic alternatives such as school bags, laundry bags and shopping bags made of cloth.

Hariyali also has a ‘rent shop’ which rents out 2.5 lakh glasses and plates for functions as an alternative to paper cups and plates. Those who are willing to observe green protocol should be felicitated so as to encourage others to follow suit, Mr. Mohanan says.

Another concern

The units say there is little awareness among customers of their work or products. Instead, the alternatives to plastic are sourced from units in neighbouring States that offer these at very low rates. It is immensely difficult to compete with products from there unless people start using products made in the State and eventually these can be offered by the units at competitive rates, they say.


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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 11:38:01 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/post-plastic-ban-kudumbashree-units-see-silver-lining/article65595709.ece