Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 5
Even as several awareness programs were organized on the occasion of World Environment Day today, the use of single-use plastic continues unabated in the city.
Polythene bags are openly used in city vegetable markets and local shops as shopkeepers and traders do not hesitate to exchange goods in these bags. Other banned plastic items are also available in the market.
Authorities have time and again reprimanded violators but failed to act as a deterrent. Although a partial impact is visible on the ground as some traders and market associations have stopped using it.
Citizens must lead
It should be a citizen-led initiative. No shopkeeper wants to keep polybags. Citizens should carry their own bags. Keeping your own water bottles will reduce the use of bottled water. – Anindita Mitra, MC Commissioner
Interestingly, MC’s door-to-door waste collectors provide most of the household waste collected daily in plastic bags.
“Behavior and awareness are required. Banning single-use plastics initially had some repercussions, but gradually the banned items started coming back into the market. Consumers and sellers should understand this and avoid its use,” says Prof. Ravindra Khaiwal, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGI.
“We need to replace plastic with bamboo, paper or other waste materials. Not all plastics are banned. Plastics of fixed thickness can be used. We need to increase legal compliance for effective results,” he adds.
Apart from being a major cause of mortality among animals, plastic bags are non-biodegradable and cause toxicity in packaged food. Food heated in plastic wrap can cause ulcers, asthma, obesity and some types of cancer in humans. Experts say that even during production, toxic chemicals are released into the environment.
On July 1 last year, the Center had ordered a nationwide ban on single-use plastic items, but consumers and shopkeepers continued to flout the norms. As soon as the ban came into effect, a joint task force of the Municipal Corporation and the Chandigarh Pollution Control Board cracked down on violators.
Over 800 challans have been issued in the last six months, but these have failed to deter people from using polythene.
What is prohibited?
Ear buds with plastic sticks; plastic sticks for balloons; plastic flags; candy sticks; ice cream sticks; Polystyrene (Thermocol); plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws and trays; plastic wrap or packaging film around sweet boxes; plastic invitation cards; and plastic cigarette packets; Plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns; Plastic stirrers