KOCHI: From next week, no shops in the city can forcefully push plastic bags carrying advertisements or logos to their customers. The Consumer Court Redressal Forum recently has directed shopping malls to provide plain carry bags without displaying advertisements. These bags should be made available for sale at the cash counters. The directive has to be brought to effect in shops by November 21.
According to the ruling, plain carry bags should be of the same quality as that of the plastic bags which carry the advertisement. People can ‘opt’ for advertisement-printed plastic bags if they feel the need for it.
When City Express talked to a few shopping chains in the city, many of them were yet to receive orders from their headquarters regarding the directive.
“We are willing to implement the order but as of now we have not received any notice from our higher authorities. There is still one week left. We can only implement the directive if we receive an order from the top officials,” said a sales executive of a prominent shop in the city.
Another sales executive, however, said their shops have already started implementing the ruling. “We have made available plain carry bags along with the ones with advertisements at the cash counters. We have even entrusted the cash counter staff to inform the public of the choice. However, from the response we received, we felt customers were opting for the advertisement bags rather than the plain ones,” said the executive.
Meanwhile, Jaleel M, president of the Kerala Vyapara Samithi said it was the mall culture which resulted in the mass-sale of advertisement and logo-printed carry bags.“Textile shops never had the culture of charging extra for their advertisement carry bags. Even now, many of them don’t do that. The same is the case for small-time bakery shops in the city who never charged extra for their carry bags. The bakeries would probably charge extra for their products, but never for the bags, hence people never felt mentally under strain,” said Jaleel.
According to him, the shops should sell advertisement-based bags for free. “There should also be such a mandate,” he said.S Gopakumar, president of the Better Kochi Response Group, said it is unfair to sell an advertisement carry bag for money. “The system of providing advertisement carry bags is prevalent across the globe. However, it becomes an unfair practice when it is sold for money,” he said.
However, the state government has been discouraging the use of plastic bags which is why traders are allowed to charge customers money. But there is no clarity in whether such advertisement- bags should be given for a certain price.The Consumer Court also issued a directive that legible and durable bills should be printed in quality printing ink on good quality papers.