Fourteen years down the line, Banning plastic carry bags completely in Himachal still remains an uphill task. Himachal govt gets tough on plastics and a complete ban on plastic (again!) will come into effect from August 15. Plastic carry bags of all kinds and one time usage items like disposable cups, plates and other such items made from plastics completely will be banned. Himachal had already passed a H.P.Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act way back in 1995 but hardly is enforced anywhere in the state. Plastic carry bags are available every where and I doubt if people are even aware that it is banned in the state.
I feel the whole approach of the govt is wrong in enforcing ban on plastic. What could not be achieved in fourteen long years, I don’t think can be achieved now. Instead of banning plastic, the govt. must charge the use of plastic carry bags. This will be a big deterrent for the public to use plastic. A report on Businessgreen.com is quite an eye-opener.
Since launching a 5p charge for food bags last May as part of its Plan A scheme to reduce waste, Marks & Spencers says the number of bags taken to cart posh ready meals home has fallen by 80 per cent, from 460m bags a year to 80m. We are really pleased at how quickly customers have reacted and adapted their shopping habits by investing in durable alternatives in which to carry their purchases," said the National Trust’s Stuart Richards, adding that in the trust’s shops, sales of reusable jute bags have soared as plastic bag use has fallen away. Retailers who have incentivised customers to reuse bags have also seen success. Tesco, which offers one Green point to its club card customers for every bag they reuse, says it has cut bag use by 50 per cent since it launched the scheme in August 2006, saving three billion bags in the process.
The overall process can be quite simple. Start charging Rs. 5/ for every plastic carry bag from the consumer. It can be clubbed as a disposable fee. Let the consumer decide whether to accept a plastic bag or carry their own bags to the shop. Also the municipal corporation/nagar panchayats can open collection center where for every plastic bag returned, Rs. 2/ can be given back. This will help in demand for plastic bags going down as one will have to pay for the bag. Secondly, it can be a good incentive for people to return back their waste bags and get some money back. Even if people do not come to these centers themselves, these can be collected by people who make a living by collecting garbage. In the end, these bags will not end up on roads or nallas or in sewage. Someone can really make some money by collecting these bags. Here is an example what has happened in Ireland.
In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts. Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.
Market solution can turn the tables where bans have failed. Bans have never worked and it eventually leads to more corruption and bribery. It will only lead to the babus demanding more money from the offenders. This Government proposal already sounds like any other GovernMint proposal.