THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fake biodegradable carry bags are flooding the city markets following the ban imposed by the state government on single-use plastic in the state. According to officials of the city corporation, there is no mechanism in place to identify fake and original biodegradable carry bags.
The state government issued an order banning the manufacture, storage and sale of single-use plastic across Kerala from January 1 and stipulated a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for violating the ban.
On January 27, the state government issued yet another order clarifying the products banned which include branded and non-branded biodegradable carry bags. According to officials, the new order has come as a boon.
“We cannot identify fake products from the original. Now, the government has issued an order specifically banning them. We will be launching an implementation drive soon. Many business establishments are using biodegradable bags produced by unauthorised manufacturers,” said health inspector Anoop Roy, Thiruvananthapuram corporation.
An official of the State Pollution Control Board said they are issuing authorisation for applicants manufacturing biodegradable bags. “We give authorisation on the condition that the product is not sold in Kerala. They can export or sell it in other states,” said the official.
Traders flay lack of clarity
District president of Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti Peringamala Ramachandran said the lack of clarity on the ban order is creating apprehensions among the traders. “The government order is interpreted differently by officers. As per the first order, it is okay to use biodegradable plastic for vegetables, meat, fish or cooked food items. But the officials implementing the ban order interpret it differently and slap fine on the traders. If they impose such huge fines, we have no other way but to shut down the business,” said Ramachandran. He said the samiti will take up the issue with the government. “We welcome the ban on single-use plastic, especially carry bags. But there needs to be more clarity on the order,” he added.
Health standing committee chairman I P Binu said since the ban order on single-use plastic has been enforced, the quantity of garbage has come down. “We need to step up and ensure that the ban order is properly imposed in our jurisdiction. We will be carrying out a strong campaign to seize such illegal products from the market,” said Binu.
Banned products as per new GO
Carry bags made of plastic, irrespective of thickness
Sheets made of plastic for single-use spread on tables in function venues, spread on plates while serving food
Plates, cups and decorative materials made of styrofoam or thermocol
Single-use utensils like cups, plates, dishes, spoons, forks, straw and stirrer made of plastic
Non-woven bags, plastic flags, plastic bunting
Plastic packets for packing fruits and vegetables
Plastic drinking water pouches
Drinking water bottles of less than 500ml
Plastic-coated paper cups, plates, paper bowls, bags
Garbage bags, including for hospital use, made of plastic
Biodegradable plastic products should have approval from the Central Pollution Control Board and certificate issued by the State Pollution Control Board
Biodegradable plastic materials shall bear the details of the company manufacturing the products and a QR Code
The product should display in writing ‘this is a purely biodegradable plastic product’
The product should dissolve in methylene dichloride; this shall be mentioned in the packaging bag/cover/sheet material