The plastic ban enforced by the Maharashtra Government from 23 June 2018 has been lauded for its positive step towards environment. However, the ban has created chaos and confusion among citizens who are clueless as to what is banned and what is allowed as also the dilutions through several notifications. Add to this the steep fine of Rs5,000 levied for carrying a plastic a bag that has always helped in the monsoons and there is complete confusion.
What is allowed?
- Plastic bags or plastic used for packaging of medicines also with plastic used for medical equipment’s and medical products.
- Plastic bags for storing food grains or as packaging material for biscuits, chips and similar food items
- Food grade virgin plastic bags with a thickness of not less than 50 micron used for packaging of milk with specified buyback price with manufactures name. Manufacturer is mandated to collect such bags from the customer for recycling
- Cartons or cardboard’s consisting of single layer plastic.
- Recyclable plastic utilised in stationery products used for educational and office use. Plastic Pens are also allowed
- Tarpaulin sheets, pens, plastic wrapper of chocolates and chips.
- Plastic items used for domestic purpose like drinking bottles and tiffin boxes.
- Bags made of jute and paper materials that are environmentally sustainable.
(Photo Credit: Mo Riza/Flickr.com)
- Compostable plastic bags or material used for plant nurseries, horticulture, agriculture, and handling of solid waste.
- Plastic and plastic bags for export purpose allowed only in the Special Economic Zone and export oriented units to wrap the material at the manufacturing stage or is an integral part of manufacturing.
- For pharma industry, use of thermocol boxes for storing medicines and plastic item for saline bottles and medicines.
What is not allowed?
- All types of plastic bags (with or without handle) and garbage bags.
- Thermocol (polystyrene) and thermocol made out of plastic which are one-time single use disposable plastic items like dish, cups, plates, glasses, fork, bowl, container, disposable dish or bowl.
- Non-woven polypropylene bags, cups and pouches to store liquid.
- Plastic containers used in Hotels for packaging food materials as well as straws.
- PET / PETE bottles as well as plastic water pouches having liquid holding capacity less than 200ml (banned in Maharashtra).
- Plastic pouches used for storing liquid
- Use of plastic or thermocol for decorative purpose
FAQs on Plastic Ban
Here are frequently asked questions by citizens on plastic ban and the answers…
What is Plastic?
“Plastic” means material; which contains as an essential ingredient a high polymer such as polyethylene terephthalate, high density polyethylene, vinyl, low density polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene resins, poly styrene (thermocol), non-oven polypropylene, multi layered coextruder, poly propylene, poly terephthalate, poly amides, poly methyl methacrylate, plastic micro beads, etc.
2) Which plastic bags are banned?
“Plastic bags” means bags made from plastic material, used for the purpose of
carrying or dispensing commodities.
- With or without handle.
- non-woven polypropylene.
- Constitute or form an integral part of the packaging at manufacturing stage or is an integral part of manufacturing.
3) What are PET and PETE bottles? Are cold drinks/ beverage bottles exempted?
The bottles made up of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene terephthalate esters (PETE) used for packaging or storing liquid or semi liquid food, including water. The use, purchase, sale, storage and manufacture of PET and PETE bottles made of “high quality food grade virgin Bisphenol-A free material and printed on it with a “predefined buy back price” shall be allowed. However, under the “Extended Producers and sellers/trader’s Responsibility (EPR)” it is mandated to setup “collection centers” for recycling plastic waste generated. The implementation deadline to setup such centers is three months since its notification issued on 23 March 2018.
PET and PETE bottles having liquid holding capacity of more than 200 ml are exempted from the plastic ban.
4) What is the Buy Back Mechanism?
- The PET / PETE bottles used for drinking water, having liquid holding capacity of one litre or more, shall have deposit and refund price of Re1 or the buyback price as decided by the manufacturer printed on it.
- Drinking water PET / PETE Bottles, having liquid holding capacity of less than one litre but more than 200ml shall be printed on it and the deposit and refund of Rs2 or the buyback price as decided by the manufacturer.
5) Where are the collection centers to be located?
The collection centers for the buyback plastic PET and PETE bottles are to be situated at ‘strategic places’ including malls, multiplexes, hotels, shops, tourists places, beaches, forts, and public spaces.
6) Who is responsible for the implementation of the collection centers?
It is the responsibility of the PET Bottle industries to ensure that these bottles are collected from retailers at depository and refund rate or buyback rate and are recycled.
7) What is single use disposable material?
Dish, cups, plates, glasses, fork, bowl, container, disposable dish/ bowl used for packaging food in hotels, spoon, straw, non-woven polypropylene bags, cups/ pouches to store liquid, packaging with plastic to wrap or store the products, packaging of food items and food grain material.
(Image cited in United Nations environment report on Single use plastic)
8) To whom is the ban on plastic is applicable to?
According to the Government GR on 23 March 2018, the ban on plastic is applicable to every person, body of person, government and non-government organization, educational institution, sport complex, clubs, cinema halls and theaters, marriage or celebration halls, industrial units, commercial institutions, offices, pilgrimage organisers, pilgrimages and religious places, hotels, dhabas, shopkeepers, malls, vendors or sellers, traders, manufacturers, caterer, wholesalers, retailers, stockiest, businessmen, hawkers, salesmen, transporters, market, producers, stalls, tourist places, forest and reserved forest, eco-sensitive areas, all sea beaches, all public places, bus stands, railway stations in Maharashtra.
9) What are the fines for carrying plastic bags?
A first time violator will be fined Rs5,000 and Rs10,000 for the second-time violator. A third-time violator will be charged with Rs25,000 and may also face imprisonment for a period of three months.
Amendments to the plastic Ban:
The latest GR dated on 30 June 2018, exempted e-commerce companies to use plastic packaging materials used for products sold in the State of Maharashtra with a contingency to “they shall develop environmental-friendly alternative for packaging of materials within three months. They shall create a mechanism for the collection of the plastic packaging material used during three months and ensure the recycling and final disposal”.
Materials used for wrapping:
As stated earlier, the government have exempted thermocol used for wrapping material at the manufacturing stage or is an integral part of manufacturing shall
Comply with few conditions laid down. They are
- The packaging material shall be more than 50 micron thickness.
- The packaging material shall be made up of minimum 20% recyclable plastic material(except for food packaging).
- The manufacturer’s details, type of plastic with code number and buy-back price shall be printed on the packaging material (except for export purpose).
The government of Maharashtra officials stated that strict action would be initiated against the violating establishments, however they denied that the plastic ban motive is not to harass citizens and they are working towards alternative options to plastic with various women NGO’s.