Maharashtra Plastic Ban Update: Officials to target, penalise 3 main items; retailers get relief

Plastic Ban Update: Officials to target, penalise 3 main items; retailers get relief
BMC’s anti-plastic squads will primarily target & penalise for use of 3 main single-use plastic/thermocol items (Picture: Nidhi Choudhary)

The Maharashtra government on Thursday relaxed its stringent ban on plastic usage by allowing small retailers to use plastic bags for packaging for the next three months. The relaxation will be applicable for plastic bags above 50 microns.

The new announcement came within four days of imposing the ban on single-use plastic across the state.

The relaxation granted to small retailers is along the lines of a similar exception already available for branded products.

Making the announcement to this effect, State Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam said representatives of small traders had submitted a proposal to work out a mechanism for recycling plastic bags within the next three months.

He said the small retailers also submitted a proposal on collecting plastic bags that would be giving to the consumers.

“They have assured that the plastic bags issued (by them) will bear an imprint of whether they are thicker than 50 microns or not, besides the place of manufacturing.

They have also assured that the plastic bags given by retailers to consumers will not end up in garbage dumps,” the minister said.

Kadam said the government has granted the relaxation for a period of three months during which the association of retail traders has assured them of coming up with a recycling plan.

“The government had relaxed the ban on usage of plastic bags in the packaging industry. It looked like the government had given the concession to big traders and left out the smaller traders,” he said.

Kadam said the small retailers have submitted a proposal assuring that they will collect plastic bags after paying 50 paise per bag to the consumer.

Highlights of retail packaging exemption:

# Retail packaging of 250 gm or more will be allowed, provided the retailer prints his name and quality of the plastic on the pack.

# The relaxation is applicable for plastic bags above 50 microns specifically used for food items as they lack a viable alternative to plastic packaging.

# Retailers indulging in ‘loose’ sale of products like milk, however, will not be exempted from the ban.

# Retailers will also have to set up a buyback mechanism in the next three months to collect all plastic put in circulation by them.

Selective Penalty

The state government banned all kinds of plastic bags, irrespective of their thickness, tea cups, glasses, thermocol glasses, thermocol used for decoration, plastic used in hotels to parcel food like boxes, spoons from June 23.

While most of the items listed in the initial notification remain banned, the state has decided to give some leeway to citizens by asking civic officials to not penalise them for use of certain items for which alternatives are unavailable or in short supply.

According to officials, civic bodies will primarily go after three categories of banned products for now. The use of any other banned product which is under consideration will not be penalised until a final decision is taken.

Items that will be fined:

* Plastic bags
* Plastic & thermocol cutlery like plates, spoons, glasses
* Plastic & thermocol decorative items

Items that are banned, but won’t attract fines for the time being:

* Garbage bin liners
* Takeaway containers used by restaurants
* Thermocol decorations for Ganesh festival

Note: Products exempted from the plastic ban can be found here.

The Maharashtra Plastic Ban prescribes Rs 5,000 fine for the first-time offenders and Rs 10,000 for the second-time offenders. Those who violate the ban for the third time will face a fine of Rs 25,000, along with a three-month imprisonment.

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