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Two sides of Maharashtra’s plastic ban

videos | Jul 13, 2018 8:42 PM IST

Two sides of Maharashtra’s plastic ban

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Two sides of Maharashtra’s plastic ban.

Water-logged streets, train tracks, muddy potholes – Mumbai received the highest rainfall of the season in the last two weeks.

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While Mumbai is used to dealing to heavy downpours, this season was different.
Mumbaikars best friend during monsoons was not there to help – plastics and that meant quite a struggle especially to manage dripping umbrellas, buying food from restaurants and carrying mobile phones, cash and other valuables.
It has been over two weeks since Maharashtra banned single-use plastics in a bid to make the state cleaner and greener.
We stepped out to assess how the city is adapting to the change.
One of the biggest hit were the hoteliers who are still struggling.
While some have added paper and aluminum foiled containers, lack of cheaper alternatives has meant production costs have gone up.
This even as a big chunk of their lucrative parcel service that accounts for over 30% of their business is seeing a drop.
“We are not against the ban but government should have first given us cheaper alternatives. Now, at our place we charge Rs 50 for a parcel of one plate of idli-sambhar. New packaging for accompaniments like Sambhar and chutney means the cost goes up by Rs 12. It's a 20% hike in the overall cost," said Srinivas Shetty, a restaurant owner in Parel.
Srinivas’s hotel is located opposite the KEM Hospital in Parel and caters to host of patient families.
Restaurants like him in the area are facing another unique problem.
“This hospital is mostly visited by poor people, who take juice even for patients. A juice container costs extra Rs 5, which is an additional burden for them. We feel the pinch while taking money from them,” adds Shetty.
Neighbouring hotels echoed his concerns.
The change has been the most difficult for unorganised players like the recycling industry operating out of the slums of Dharavi.
Dharavi units recycle all types of plastic before sending it to different manufacturing units around the city.
The ban has meant a direct hit on employment of the daily wagers in these recycling units with no job alternatives.
“The impact of this ban will be such that around 25,000-30,000 people are to set to lose jobs in Dharavi alone. This ban will affect 50% of total recycling industry,” said Fareed Siddiqui, general secretary, Dharavi Businessmen’s Welfare Association.
Forty percent of the workforce in these plastic recycling units are women.
While it closed multiple opportunities, the ban on plastics also opened some.
Amidst the chaos and confusion in the initial days, some are now making conscious efforts to adapt to the change.
Since plastic bags are banned, there has been a sharp increase in demand for cloth bags, positioned as the cheapest and easily available alternative.
This has been a positive for many non-governmental organisations and small scale textile businesses.
“I am working with a garment manufacturing unit called Meemansa that caters to various brands. We found that our side cuts remain unused. So we decided to donate these side-cuts to the NGOs, who then make cloth bags out of it,” said Vani Biju, consultant at Meemansa.
Meemansa then assists the NGOs in marketing and selling these bags.
The conservations around the harmful impact of plastic on environment has now began.
Some housing societies in Mumbai had led the way in consciously replacing plastic products with greener alternatives even before the ban.
But all the conversations bring us to one sole point — every big change has two sides and its success or failure will only be determined by how administration collaborates and assists its citizens to adapt to it.
The city of Mumbai, as the rest of Maharashtra, looks forward to this.
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