Plastic Ban Survey
In November 2017, the Maharashtra State Environment Minister had announced a total ban on plastic carry bags throughout the state of Maharashtra from Gudi Padva of 2018, the 18th of March. The ban is predicted to be a milestone in tackling plastic pollution.
To check our preparedness as a city to enforce this ban, around 50 FyBA students from St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Mumbai in partnership with GreenLine, conducted a survey. The survey involved students looking at three categories of shops i.e. Malls or high-end shops, mid-range shops and street vendors and asking them about the means they will employ to enforce this ban.
A total of 525 shops participated in this survey and a staggering 43% of shopkeepers across all three categories had no idea about the ban. Around 51% of shops had not planned for any alternatives for plastic carry bag, most of them were street vendors. It was observed that many shops were depending on government to come up with the alternatives. While a number of high-end shops plan to shift to paper bags, they were concerned about the strength of these bags. When asked if any help was received from the government, 93% across the three categories answered in the negative. The remaining stated that the authorities visited them and they were shown a circular with regards to the plastic ban.
Out of the total shops surveyed, 72% were still providing plastic carry bags to customers, with street vendors making 90% of them. Only 41% of shops provide plastic bags with thickness of 50 microns or above despite the ban on plastic bags below 50 microns since 2006.
85% of shopkeepers said that they are aware of pollution caused by plastic bags. They however continued to supply plastic bags because customers don’t carry their own bags and refuse to buy if plastic bags are not provided resulting in loss of business. They also said that currently plastic bags are the cheapest and are easily available compared to alternative bags. Few shops raised questions over how to carry dairy products, cold storage items, liquid products, non-vegetarian products, etc. Whereas, a few others replied that they never thought about the reason but were just following others. Many high-end shops and malls said that they provide plastic bags because of the company guidelines and orders received from the owner or manager.
When they were asked if this ban will succeed, 66% of shopkeepers answered in the negative. 62% of them think that the government will enforce this ban but 49% of them said that the public is not interested in this ban. 51% of the shops said that alternatives to plastic bags are not easily available.