The Kerala government has banned the manufacture, sale and storage of single-use plastic items in Kerala from January 1, 2020. The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday, owing to the increased environmental and health issues related to the disposal of single-use plastics.
The government’s decision is based on the recommendations by an expert technical committee that was put in place to evaluate the usage of plastic. According to a report by the committee, the plastic usage in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra had come down by around 70% per cent after the plastic ban was introduced in the states.
The banned items include plastic carry bags (irrespective of the thickness), table sheets, cooling films, plates, cups, spoons, straws, forks, decorative pieces made using thermocol and styrofoam, paper cups having plastic coating, bowls, non-woven bags, flags, water pouches, juice packets, plastic packets, PET bottles under 300 ml, stirrers, garbage bags and PVC flex materials.
However, plastic kept for export purposes, plastics used in the pharma industry, and materials made of compostable or biodegradable plastics (labelled ISO or ISO 17088: 2008) are exempted from the ban.
As per the Environment Protection Act, 1986, stringent action will be taken against those who defy the ban, said a statement by the Chief Ministers Office. District Collectors, sub-divisional magistrates, and pollution control board-appointed officials are authorized to take action against those who violate the ban.
The release also stated that a fine of Rs 10,000 will be imposed on manufacturers, wholesalers and small traders who defy the ban. For the second-time violators, the fine amount would be Rs 25,000 and for third timers, the fine will be Rs. 50,000 along with cancellation of business license.
As per the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) plan, enterprises like Milma, Kerala Water Authority, Beverages Corporation and Kerafed would be taking back their plastic bottles and covers from the public in return for money.
Also, Under the Solid Waste Management Rules of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, five per cent of land in industrial parks should be set aside for waste processing and recycling. In order to encourage the manufacture of environment-friendly bags, the Industries Department would also be introducing incentive schemes.
In India, so far, 18 states have banned the use of plastic carry bags, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.