THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While Centre has already banned plastic carry bags below 75 microns and issued orders to phase out single-use plastic from July 2022, enforcement by city corporation has lost steam since pandemic outbreak. Officials now hope things will improve when ban is strictly enforced in all states
The Union Environment Ministry has issued strict orders banning plastic carry bags below 75 microns from next month. The Centre has also come up with new orders banning single-use plastic from July 2022. Though the city corporation here has taken several steps to root out single-use plastic, the pandemic has thrown all efforts out of gear and the use of plastic products has shot up in the recent past. As per estimates, around 633 tonnes of plastic waste is generated in the state per day and 18.5gm plastic is generated per person every day. In Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, 21 tonnes of the total 353 tonnes of solid waste generated is plastic.
With the deadline for implementing the orders fast approaching, the civic authorities are gearing up to hold meetings with Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti and Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association (KHRA). According to officials, the lockdown and rise in Covid cases have derailed their efforts to enforce the ban ever since the pandemic outbreak.
A senior official of the corporation told TNIE that efforts by the civic body to root out plastic carry bags and single-use plastic were rendered useless by the pandemic. “We are unable to enforce because of the lockdown and the pandemic situation. The state government has already banned plastic carry bags in the state. However, due to lack of enforcement, it is being widely used currently,” said the official.
The official said imposing the ban across the country would help curb the use in the capital as a large majority of plastic products are coming from other states. “Once the other states ban the plastic products, the availability of these would come down drastically and we would be launching enforcement to bring down the availability of the product,” said the official.
The other major reason for the spike in the generation of plastic waste is the huge demand for parcelled food. “We will be holding a discussion with the hotels and restaurants association to minimise the use of single-use plastic for packing and parcelling,” the official added.
CORP OFFERS NO ALTERNATIVES, SAYS HOTEL ASSN
It’s been more than two years since the civic body launched efforts to introduce alternatives for plastic and other single-use plastic products. However, nothing has happened on the ground so far.B Vijayakumar, district president of KHRA, said the civic body should come up with other options before enforcing the ban. “Several discussions were held in the last couple of years. We are positive about this and are ready to adopt green alternatives for packing and parcelling food. But the civic body has not given us any alternatives,” said Vijayakumar. “The mayor had convened a meeting with us before Onam. The only agenda now is to ban plastic carry bags,” he added.
kerala’s first step in 2020
The Kerala government took a bold decision to ban single-use plastic products from January 2020, after considering the environmental and health issues caused by mounting plastic waste. According to the ban, violators, be it manufacturers, wholesalers or small traders, were to be fined `10,000 for the first time violation, `25,000 for the second violation and `50,000 along with closure of the business for the third time offense