We’re about to take a big step forward in the mission to solve plastic pollution in India. The nationwide ban on Single-use plastic officially came in to force on 2nd October 2019. It is India’s ambitious intent to phase single-use plastic like straws and cups by 2022.
As excited as we are about this, we’re also really aware this change will be difficult for some people and some businesses to come to terms with.
Single-use plastic is disposable plastic (use-and-throw items) that are commonly used for packaging and include items intended to be used only once, before they are thrown away or recycled. Common Single-use plastic items are carrying bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery”.
As of 2018, approximately 380 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide each year and according to the United Nations Environment Programme, an estimated 8 million tons of this the world’s oceans.
Like much of the world, India is struggling to dispose its growing quantities of plastic waste given how ubiquitous it has become — from our tooth brushes to debit cards. India generates close to 26,000 tonnes of plastic a day, according to a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) estimate from 2012.
Because of the chemical structure of these plastics, they are resistant to many natural processes of degradation taking up to 1000 years to decompose. With the continued production and use of these plastics, we are swiftly moving towards earth covered in plastic.
Plastic Bags: The King of Plastic Pollution
For many of us, plastic bags have been in our lives since birth. We were taught to turn up to a store with nothing but our wallets, and leave with our purchases in free plastic carry bags. Sometimes just one item per bag, or even multiple bags for one item!
We didn’t question it. This is what everyone else did. We learnt from watching others in our community and it became part of our culture.
And then finally, someone started to question the intelligence of the uncontrolled handout of shopping bags-that were made from a material that doesn’t biodegrade and doesn’t return to the circle of life. If it doesn’t break down, what happens to it?
We now know that plastic bags play a starring role in the plastic pollution crisis. The even scarier news is that plastic production is expected to continue to skyrocket, while less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled globally.
As hard as it is to learn that we have all contributed to this crisis, the good news is we now know how to solve it.
And removing plastic bags out of our economy is a big part of this – with such an easy solution: always take a bag shopping!
The hard part is learning new habits, and unlearning the old ones.
Let’s all remember that none of us made the transition to reusable bags overnight. We’ve all been through the various stages of carrying shopping in our arms and pockets, dropping things on the ground, or having to go back to the car while at the checkout. It takes practice to teach yourself a new behavior – and to make it a habit.
Caught in the Boycott
Many alternatives to single-use plastics have already been integrated into daily life, with the use of alternatively produced single-use products which are more environmentally friendly in some cases and reusable items in others.
We are aware this change will be difficult for some people and some businesses to come to terms with. So, we ask you to be understanding and supportive of those businesses that need to transition.
The best thing you can do is to always take a bag shopping, but there will be businesses, especially smaller family-run businesses, who will find it really difficult, or who may be completely unaware of the new laws. So, support your local stores by taking a bag and if necessary, gently let them know about the ban and inform them they are liable to fines.
Food vendors may have the hardest decisions to make however as costs for some of the alternative products have been said to be significantly higher than their predecessor. Do they bite the bullet and absorb the additional costs or do they pass them on to the customer? Time will have to tell.