The notification banned manufacturing, use, sale, distribution and storage of plastic materials such as bags, spoons, plates and other disposable items. As per the notification, violators will be fined Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 for the first and second-time offence. A third-time offender will have to shell out Rs 25,000 and may also face imprisonment for a period of three months.
Under the notification, products manufactured from plastic and thermocol have been covered under the ban. As a result usage of plastic bags with a handle and without handle, disposable cups, and plates, spoons, forks, glasses, and containers is prohibited. Plastic packaging used to wrap and store the product is also banned.
Apart from this plastic straw, non-woven polypropene bags, pouches and any other plastic used to store, package and transfer food items will no longer be permitted in the state. Besides, it has banned the use of plastic and thermocol for decoration purposes.
While the ban will be implemented within Maharashtra, passengers coming to the state from other parts of the country are also expected to maintain caution while disposing plastic at stations.
Officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and district and local administration have been authorised to implement the ban. For regulating this law at tourist locations, tourism police, or Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has been made responsible.
The government has also formed an association comprising of plastic manufacturers, ministry officials and environmental experts to oversee the implementation of the ban.
Confusion on the ground
While the notification was passed in March, the government has revised it multiple times over the course of three months. Many in the state are still awaiting a clarity on how the mechanism will it work.
The government has come up with ‘Buy Back’ policy where the stall owner is expected to offer money in return over the plastic bottle deposited by the user. While the state government is expected to repay the amount shelled by stall owners in payback, licensees claimed no official communication has been received.
On the other hand, the dairy operators in the state have been ordered to put in place a buyback mechanism for plastic milk pouches till July 11. Besides this, they are also not allowed to use plastic bags less than 50 microns thickness to package the milk. They should print a buyback price, of not less than Rs 0.50, for the pouches. Officials of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Milk Federation, an apex federation of the district and taluka-level milk unions, said that they have written to the state dairy development and environment departments seeking more information.
Commercial bodies, like the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association, the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, say the ban would have an adverse impact on the Rs 50,000-crore industry, besides affecting the ancillary units.
MCCI’s vice president Lalit Gandhi said the ban on plastic bags has derailed the production, packaging and supply schedules of the grains, bakery and clothing industries.
Plastic items excluded from the ban
The plastic used for packaging medicines and drugs
The food grade virgin plastic used for packaging milk
Compostable packaging bags used for horticulture and agriculture purposes
Plastic bags used for exporting goods
Plastic used at the manufacturing stage
The plastic used for handling of solid waste
(Courtesy: The Indian Express)