Maharashtra bans the use of plastic bags and thermocols within the State

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Ramdas Kadam- Environment Minister, Maharashtra. Image Source: Mumbai Live

Maharashtra government led by honourable Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis finally puts a ban on the use of plastic and on food containers made of plastic foam commonly known as thermocol, within the state. This scintillating decision has been implemented on Sunday on the auspicious occasion of Gudi Padwa, a festival that marks the beginning of traditional New Year of Hindu Marathis.

After 6 months of discussion and debates finally, an official statement was given by the Maharashtra Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam on Friday in the Assembly, banning the use of plastics. He said that the ban would include the production, use, storage, sale, distribution, import and transportation of plastic and thermocol.

The decision was taken as a reaction to the increasing adverse effects of plastics on the environment. According to a study by Orbs media last year in India, 82.4% of tap water samples contained the hazardous plastic fibres. The most affected is the marine life as the plastic residues were found in fish, sea birds and mammals. And this is not enough; the careless throwing of plastic bags clogs the drains which lead to floods like situations in the country.

The decision taken by the Maharashtra government will definitely bring positive changes in the current environment scenario of the city. The Shiv Sena minister said that the ban would include plastic bags, thermocol, disposable cups and plates, cutlery, non-woven polypropylene bags, flex cards, plastic pouches and packaging. He also posed ban on the government offices and hotels using plastic materials.

However, plastics used to cover medicines, forest and horticulture products, solid waste, tree saplings and plastics used in special economic zones for export purposes, plastic covers and wrappers used for manufactured and processed products all would be exempted from the ban. Ramdas Kadam, further said that the plastic milk pouches would be more than 50 microns and should be recyclable, because the thicker the plastic, the easier it is to be recycled. He also said that these pouches should be bought back in not more than 50 paise.

He has strictly asked the milk industry to have a mechanism for the collection of used milk pouches and that it is mandatory to buy it back and said that it is their responsibility to have a proper recycling mechanism for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) items. “The mechanism should be installed by the manufacturers within three months of the rules and regulations being published” says Kadam.

Similarly, plastic water bottles should also be recycled and that the retailers to refund Rs 1 to the consumer on his/her returning the plastic bottle. He also mentioned that instead of completely prohibiting industries manufacturing PET bottles, the GST directorate would levy reuse and recycle charges and local bodies would collect revenue generated from it.

To make sure, that the decision is well implemented by every individual and/or organization, whoever violates these rules and regulations would be fined ranging from Rs 5000 to Rs 25,000 and/or three years of imprisonment.