The plastic ban effective from 23rd June has triggered pro-environment emotions among many people to support the ban and are exploring alternatives that can replace all the plastic. While on the other hand there are many people who just think that the ban is unfair since it targets cheap plastic carry bags and not the packaging industry which is the bigger culprit. However, the plastic ban can be a first step towards sustainable waste management only if the government provides proper channel for the management of plastic wastes instead of penalizing people for using plastic.
This is not the first time plastic is banned, the first ban on plastic carry bags came in the year 2006 where the use of plastic carry bags having less than 50 microns in thickness was banned through the Maharashtra Plastic Carry Bags (Manufacture and Usage) Rules, 2006 but it did not serve its purpose due to lack of strict enforcement, no clarification on intention as to why only 50 microns etc. thus lack of effective awareness creation by the government led to the failure of the plastic ban in 2006. Now, there is a lot of awareness about plastic wastes menace but the way the 2018 ban is implemented is still questionable.
|Reused plastic can |
(Courtesy: Smita Mehetre)
It is important to note that despite the environmental and health hazards caused due to plastic wastes, plastic wasn't invented with that intention. I would like to narrate one such example from an article written by Dr. Priyadarshini Karve on Plastic (Source: E-Shaishanik Sundarbh 111 Apr-May 2018). Back in the 18th century, the discovery of plastic replaced ivory that was largely used in the making of billiard balls, this ivory would be fetched by slaughtering elephants for their tusk's, it rampantly depleted the elephant population. In 1869, John W. Hyatt, invented the first plastic by treating cellulose which formed a good substitute for ivory and was rewarded $10,000. This discovery actually saved lives of elephants from extinction and plastic became a boon for people as it was cheap, easily moldable into any shape or size and durable. I am sure everyone will agree with me on the benefits of plastic, then why are we facing so many problems with plastic wastes???
I feel its our one time use and throw attitude because when we throw it away it goes no where but comes back to us. As I have already mentioned in my earlier blogs that until our attitude towards consumption does not change, we are always going to fall in this vicious cycle. However with our generation which is full of innovation and is conscious we can replace plastic with anything better just by changing our behavior, or by finding a better way of dealing with plastics or by inventing some new material. Its in our hands to make plastic a boon or a curse!