Three days after the plastic ban came into effect in Tamil Nadu, nearly 21.67 metric tonnes of banned plastic was seized by the Greater Chennai Corporation, according to officials.
The Corporation has seized 1.88 metric tonne plastic on December 31, 2018, 2.25 metric tonne on January 1, 2019 and 8.35 metric tonne on the next day from various locations. On Thursday, it has seized a higher number of 9.19 metric tonne, said the Greater Chennai Corporation officials.
Tamil Nadu's ban on certain plastic items came into effect from January 1, 2019. The implementation was visible in many of the shops, where people are switching over to alternatives starting from cloth bags, newspaper and banana leaf.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has listed 14 banned plastic products, including plates, cups, bags, plastic packaging material, plastic-coated items, non-woven bags, straws and plastic sheets.
“All primary packaging materials are allowed. So products that are packed before they reach the market are not banned even if they are single-use plastic,” Shambhu Kallolikar, chairman of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board told Media.
Items excluded are plastic cases containing milk, curd, biodegradable plastics and packaging plastics like water bottle from big firms by the government and others.
The government has identified a list of 12 eco-friendly alternatives, including cloth bags, glass containers, paper plates and cups, and banana leaves. Retail outlets have already started putting up notices asking people to bring cloth bags.
The Greater Chennai Corporation has set up 200 Ward Committees with eight officials from the local offices in each committee, and another 15 Zonal Committees to implement the decision. It has also initiated a drive from December 31, to collect the banned plastic items from households and shops through various collection points.
The Corporation has also been conducting door to door awareness programmes to better implement the government initiative and plans are to cover more households in the coming days.
An enforcement wing will also conduct an inspection in the shops to ensure the banned plastic is fully disposed of. The plastic will be disposed of in tar to be used in laying roads.
According to an article by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Central Pollution Control Board estimates Tamil Nadu to be generating approximately 79,115 tonnes per annum of plastic waste and cities like Chennai and Coimbatore to have a mix of 80 per cent of high density and low-density polyethene waste comprising of carry bags, milk pouches and packing films.
Tamil Nadu Plastic Manufacturers’ Association (TAPMA), which filed the petition, called the plastic ban 'discriminatory'. The Association alleged that use of plastics in many government sectors and large-scale private sectors continues, the same is banned for the public and small-scale private sectors.
“The government order bans all forms of plastics packaging including by small retail outlets, grocery shops, whereas the same is permitted for MNCs and FMCG companies. This will hit the businesses of over 200,000 small vendors, hawkers, shops, hotels, restaurants, sweet shops, etc,” TAPMA had said.
The Association further pointed out that more than 5,000 plastics industries will be forced to close down and equipment and machines worth Rs 3,000 crore will remain idle. They also said that 200,000 direct workers will lose their jobs, resulting in a GST revenue loss of Rs 1,800 crore annually, as a result of this ban.
Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has already issued legal notices to about 1,400 plastic manufacturing units across the state. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB)has tied up with the commercial taxes department and sales tax department in 29 interstate check posts.
Minister for fisheries and spokesperson of AIADMK D Jayakumar said that the government will work towards the rehabilitation of all the micro, small and medium scale plastic manufacturers after the ban is implemented.
The State administration has created collection centrers to collect the banned items. The government is also planning to impose a fine for stricter implementation of the ban.
The TNPCB has also been coordinating with commercial and sales tax departments to keep the tab on inter-state check posts and block vehicles carrying banned plastic products.