Tamil Nadu Plastic Ban: Some Welcome It With Innovative Ideas, Some With Protests
Plastic which is both boon and bane to the humankind has made us dependent on it. We have become so addictive of plastic use that we do not even want to reduce its consumption or maybe look for alternative methods. Many studies have shown that plastic is leading to serious environmental issues. Keeping that in mind, some states are taking stern measures to curb plastic pollution. From this year, the Tamil Nadu government has banned plastic in the state. While the small business owners have been majorly affected by it, there are some who are also getting benefited by the ban. At the same time, many have also come up with alternative ideas to replace plastic materials.
Tamil Nadu plastic ban
While talking about the ban, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Edappadi Palaniswami said that the ban will be primarily on plastic carry bags, it will also include plastic plates, cups, plastic flags and small plastic sachets that are used in packaging water. There are a few other things on which the ban would also apply. The minister also acknowledged that a total blanket ban would not be possible in the state. “A few plastic materials used for packing milk, curd, oil and medicines have been exempted from the ban,” he added.
Soon after the ban, many plastic traders had shut down their shops to protest against the plastic ban, demanding more time to find sustainable, cost-effective alternatives to plastic. In George Town, Chennai, Plastic Sellers closed their shops and had put out posters against the ban. They also claimed that their Association would go on an indefinite strike if the government does not revoke the ban.
“We are only asking them to revise their ban. It is true that they gave us six-month advance notice but during this period, why didn’t the government announce or make provisions for alternatives,” said one of the shop owners, as reported by The News Minute.
In Tamil Nadu, while business owners are claiming that the ban would affect their business, there are a few who are loving it.
The Tamil Nadu Village who is loving the ban
Following the ban in Tamil Nadu, many people are going back to the basics to counter plastic items – use of betel nut leaves, banana leaves and Mantharai leaves, as an alternative to plastic plates.
In Chinnacheri village of Tamil Nadu, many women have been stitching Mantharai leaves plates for almost three decades. According to The Hindu, after the ban was rolled out on January 1, there has been a rocketing demand for the leaves. The demand also has increased the employment and even the wages of the workers.
The business that employs mostly, women is an age-old work. However, the business that was going down the hill for some years is now suddenly witnessing a rise.
Women who work in self-help groups (SHGs) make these plates. Currently, half of the women in the village are stitching the plates. While talking to The Hindu, P. Maheswari, a book-keeper for the SHGs said that the demand for the leaves was very low, however, since December, there has been a massive spike in demand. She said, “Wholesale dealers purchase from us and sell the leaves in Arcot, Arni, Vellore, Chennai and Kancheepuram. It is mainly used in hotels for serving biryani and in grocery stores. Earlier, 100 leaves were priced at ₹100. Now, they are ready to purchase the same quantity for ₹130.”
According to her, there has been an increase in the wages as well. Earlier, each worker would receive Rs 65 for making one kg of leave plates. Now it has increased to Rs 75-80 per kg, she added.
The leaves are brought from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Assam. Village women make plates out of these leaves and then they are sold in the wholesale market.
We generally use single-use plastics in the form of disposable coffee cups, when we take away a nice cup of cappuccino from our favourite cafe, straws at ‘Narial Pani’(coconut water) stalls or plastic spoons at our lunch table. After the ban kicked off, many small vendors are facing major issues. However, to cope up with that, some vendors have come up with interesting ideas. Some Narial Pani sellers in the state have found ingenious ways to replace plastic straws.
A ‘Narial Pani wala’ at Maravankulam bus stop, in Madurai district, is using papaya stalk to serve fresh, cool tender coconut water.
The papaya stalks that becomes hollow from inside after it is sundried can be used as straws. The stalks after drying become hard and it does not bend and can be easily be used to drink coconut water.
The shopkeeper owners have stopped giving plastic bags to costumers. They have replaced plastic plates with areca nut leaf plates and are using stainless steel bowls for holding Archana articles.