Despite ban on plastics, shopkeepers use bin liners


Plastic ban does not translate into effective implementation of the ban as shopkeepers still continue with old ways of using plastic bin liners to dispose waste

Plastic bin liners are a very common sight in roadside shops. Credits- Shoby Krishna

Plastic bin liners, banned by BBMP in 2016, are still used by shopkeepers in Bengaluru because of weak enforcement.

Though they are aware of the penalty and waste segregation guidelines, shopkeepers continue to use plastic bin liners. Sunil Kumar, manager of Sri Manjunatha Silk Udyog, Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road, said: “We are aware of the penalty which is why we don’t give shoppers plastic bags; we offer cloth bags. We use plastic bin liners only for external use waste disposal.”

The BBMP’s health department has focused on banning plastic because it is harmful to people and animals. “We have been telling street vendors for the past one month to use alternatives and have placards asking customers to bring their own bags,” Dr Balasundar A.S., BBMP’s chief health officer (west zone), informed The Observer.

Data from the BBMP health department shows that till August 29, 2.5 lakh kg of plastics had been seized from the city’s 198 wards. Ahead of the strict enforcement of the ban, BBMP launched an awareness campaign on July 15 against the use of plastics.

The new Solid Waste Management (SWM) Bye-laws which came into force on September 1 aim at better implementation of the ban, as the penalties have been increased five times and provisions have been included to conduct raids and cancel trade licences. It also aims to promote usage of seized plastic which will be shredded and used to lay roads.

 “Using paper bags for commercial waste disposal is difficult. We use plastic bin liners because of easy availability and management. Even though there is a proper waste- segregation bin set up by BBMP near my shop, people still use the bin with plastic bin liners,” B.M. Bharath Bushan, a shopkeeper on Nrupathunga Road who has used plastic bin liners for the past 18 years, said.

“I have used plastic bin liners only for the past six years. Previously, a BBMP truck collected waste directly from dustbins, but now since we use plastic bin liners, it is easy  to clean dustbins,” P. Kumarswamy, who has run a shop on the same road for 25 years, said.

The BBMP circular clearly mentions the banned items and exemptions. Penalties are imposed under Section 431(A) of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Act, 2013. It also mentions that the penalty for commercial users of plastic covers is Rs 25, 000 for the first offence.

The Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018, specify that it is the responsibility of waste generators, be it individuals or commercial establishments, to segregate waste and hand it over to the local bodies.

Akshay Heblikar, director and trustee of Ecowatch, an NGO, said: “Ultimately, it is the people, the community, which has to take steps… to protect the environment. The government agencies and bodies are there to regulate and not all the time implement.”

According to BBMP website, Bengaluru generates 3,500 tonnes of solid waste every day. Of this, 12% is plastic waste. Shopkeepers use plastic bin liners to dispose of waste without segregating it.

The BBMP circular says it is necessary to ban plastics as they damage the environment and people’s health. Enforcement, on the other hand is influenced by a variety of factors such as the will of the people to follow the rules.

Plastics have been banned not only in Karnataka, but also in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Telangana. This is in line with the national goal of banning all single-use plastics by 2022.


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