KOCHI: Disposable plastic gloves, which were introduced in malls and other places to protect customers from the virus, have emerged as an environmental threat during Covid times.
Though there is a blanket ban on plastic carry bags across the state, disposable hand-gloves have become rampant to a point that the pollution control board and other regulatory bodies are clueless about addressing the issue.
“After several campaigns and tussles with shop keepers, we were able to bring in a blanket ban on single-use plastic carry bags. Now, plastic gloves are available in an uncontrolled manner across the state, post the pandemic outbreak. This is a big setback as efforts to save the environment are in vain,” said C K Peter, outgoing councillor of Kochi corporation who helmed several initiatives to ban plastic carry bags.
Peter highlighted that used plastic gloves are being dumped on the streets.
“Authorities concerned must take stringent action to find an alternative to this menace,” he said.
The health inspector of Kochi corporation agreed that large quantities of used plastic gloves are dumped along with biowaste.
“As per guidelines, these gloves have to be treated in an incinerator or at the IMAGE plant at Palakkad. But they are handed over to waste collectors. The workers have also received syringes and other medical waste during door-to-door waste collection,” the health inspector said.
Gloves below 50 microns
According to wholesale plastic dealers in Kochi, the demand for plastic gloves has skyrocketed in the state after the lockdown period.
“At present, we are supplying plastic gloves to shopping malls, jewellery shops, supermarket and textile shops. Several carry bag manufacturers have begun manufacturing plastic gloves. The gloves are below 50 microns,” said a wholesale dealer who runs a shop at Broadway.
Even though the Pollution Control Board is the supreme authority to monitor the menace, they are oblivious about its solution.
“We have given strict instructions to shops and establishments on the know-how of treating plastic gloves along with medical waste, instead of sending it to the local body’s waste treatment plant,” said Pradeep Kumar A B, Chairman, State Pollution Control Board.