The Maharashtra cabinet on Thursday decided to impose a ban on certain plastic items from the Marathi New Year, ‘Gudhi Padwa’, on March 18.
The ban will be brought into effect by amending the Solid Waste Management Act, 2016 and the Plastic Carry Bags (Manufacture and Usage) Rules, 2006. It will be implemented by the local bodies and the state pollution control board (MPCB).
An official in the state environment department said the ban will cover plastic carry bags, thermocol and plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic bowls and plastic cutlery like spoons, forks etc.
While the draft of the proposal, published in February, also mentioned various other items such as flex boards, non-woven polypropylene bags, banners, flags, decorative door hangings, plastic sheets and all types of plastic wrappers, they are not included in the current ban following a protest by plastic manufacturers in Mumbai.
Moreover, the plastic used for the packaging of essential items like milk, water, grains and other similar goods is being excluded from the ban due to lack of feasible alternatives and to avoid a steep rise in price.
An empowered committee under the Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam has been formed to discuss the ban on rest of the plastic goods, the official said.
“The committee will prepare the roadmap for banning rest of the plastic goods. Today, a ban on plastic was approved in principle, but the committee will decide the further action plan,” the official said.
Kadam had earlier announced that the state will ban plastic items completely from March 18 this year. While some sources have claimed that the implementation may be delayed, the ban will be brought into effect before the end of March.
The State has already banned plastic carry bags thinner than 50 microns and smaller than 8×12 inches, but with little effect.
But another officer in the Environment Department conceded that it has had little effect.
“The environmental problems due to plastic are on the rise. Water clogging due to plastic bags causes health hazards. Animals are eating these bags, and plastic is hazardous for marine creatures too,” he said.
The current ban will have a major impact on small-scale retailers, restaurants, and delivery kitchens as manufacturers, retailers and users stand to be penalized.
In case of violations, individuals could end up paying a fine of Rs 5,000 if they are found using the banned items. Businesses, on the other hand, could end up paying a penalty as high as Rs 50,000 and risk losing their license.
Additionally, those applying for new licenses will also have to submit an undertaking to their respective civic bodies stating that they will not use banned plastic items.