Banned single-use plastic is still around, adding to city’s trash

City Environment Governance

Shopkeepers, vegetable vendors and small restaurants continue to use single-use plastic bags despite a ban on them, adding to Bengaluru’s garbage menace.

Plastic bags less than 75 microns thick were banned by the Centre in September this year. Under the Prime Minister’s vision, single-use plastic is to be phased out completely by the end of 2022, as per the recently notified Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Amendment Rules, 2021 issued by the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Plastic bags, however, can be seen everywhere in the city. The Observer saw plastic bags in people’s hands, with vegetable vendors, small general stores, and in garbage heaps on the street.

Suryanath Kumar, a vegetable vendor at KR Market, said: “Only a few customers bring their bags. We have to keep plastic bags, or else they will go to the next vendor.”

The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules propose a three-stage ban. The first phase aims to ban plastic bags less than 75 microns thick by September 2021. The second phase will aim to ban ear buds, plastic flags, ice cream sticks, thermocol, cigarette packets, and cutlery made of plastic by July 2022. The third phase will ban all plastic carry bags less than 120 microns thick by December 2022.

Enforcement has been lacking in Karnataka. The state had banned the manufacture, transportation and distribution of nearly all single-use plastic items back in 2016, irrespective of their thickness. Though plastic bags have been banned for five years now, single-use plastic items, including carry bags, can still be seen everywhere.

“I am not scared of the cops. I have never been fined, and they never check,” said a nearby fruit-seller who did not want to be named.

Sharno, owner of Cool Junction , a small eatery in Kumbalgodu, said: “I have stopped carrying plastic bags because of the government ban. Now I use only paper bags.” The Observer however noted that the eatery had used plastic bags on multiple occasions.

When The Observer called the plastic bag supplier to the eatery, the man who answered the phone said: “We don’t carry plastic bags”, and hung up.

Vivekananda of Akshay Polymers, a plastic bag manufacturer, said: “Our sales have increased after the lockdown.” 

Asked what kind of plastic bags they sell, he shared: “We have everything thicker than 55-60 microns because the government has banned 30 microns thick plastic bags.” The Centre has banned any plastic item under 75 microns of thickness, while the Karnataka government has banned all single-use plastic items regardless of thickness.

David S.R., founder of E-Cure Charitable Trust, an NGO based in Bengaluru, said: “People don’t follow the government ban because there is no fine and no enforcement. Another reason is that people are simply not aware. This is why we go out in the community to create awareness. We try to make people take a pledge to not use plastic bags.” 

The NGO has been working for the betterment of the local environment for 12 years. Their goal is to plant two crore trees in Bengaluru by 2025.

Besides adding to the city’s garbage menace, plastics are non-biodegradable — which means they can stay in our environment for hundreds of years. The market controls all supplies. If citizens demand plastic bags, they will continue to exist until a cheaper and environment-friendly alternative emerges.


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