TN Bans single-Use Plastics from January 2019 – Will it Work?Jun 06, 2018
On the occasion of World Environment Day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapadi Palanisamy announced that a ban on single-use plastics will be implemented from January 1st of 2019. The ban is expected to make exceptions for packaging of milk, curd, oil and medicine. He spoke about how plastic waste is a source of groundwater contamination as well as a major reason for groundwater not percolating properly into the soil. He requested the people to co-operate with the ban and help in the implementation by supporting the rule.
While this definitely sounds like a very welcome move by the government, there have been a lot of queries regarding how this ban can be implemented effectively. On one side there is still confusion about what exactly is being banned and a clearer explanation is needed to implement it successfully. According to the Chief Minister’s announcement, the ban primarily applies to carry bags, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic flags, and plastic water sachets among other. But, there are a lot of other single-use plastics such as disposable water bottles, food packaging, etc. It is still not clear how these things will be replaced. Many people are expressing their concern about a lack of safe alternatives that will replace single-use plastics.
Tamil Nadu is not the first state to implement this ban and there have been around 20 odd states that have already announced a plastic-ban of varying degrees. But, the implementation has often been lax and the states are still struggling to follow the ban. Among other states, Karnataka has a blanket ban on manufacture and use of certain plastics. But, it hasn’t made much of an impact in reality. People are still continuing to use plastic bags, cutlery and packaging. A similar situation exists in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh as well. Often, plastic that is banned in one state is brought from neighbouring states and used as usual. There is also confusion about the quality of plastic that is used and hence people are unaware of what to use and what not to use.
Meanwhile, certain states like Rajasthan and Uttarakhand are making progress, albeit at a slow pace. The success in these states is credited to awareness among people and a top-down approach to regulating the manufacture of plastic as well as the use.
In Tamil Nadu, there is a need for the government and the people to create awareness and inform the concerned people about how to implement the rule successfully. Also, the government needs to take up the manufacture of alternative packaging at nominal prices because currently these alternatives such as jute, paper bags, etc are expensive and are not immediately suitable for large-scale replacement.
All said and done, change definitely has to start from the common people. The government’s ban has surely set the tone for people to act more responsibly and take eco-friendly decisions in everyday life. Also, it is important not to forget that responsible disposal of plastic plays an extremely important role in conserving the environment. The government has to take action regarding setting up facilities to recycle plastic and for safer disposal of segregated waste. Strict laws for penalising those who do not follow the rule is also important to make sure that there are no lapses.
With a more responsible attitude among the people, this ban could be a start to a more sustainable future if the implementation is done right.