Is the old scene of going to the market with jute bags in hand coming back? From July 1, plastics with a density of less than 75 microns and disposable materials will be banned in the country. After this announcement, discussions are going on about the alternative of plastic! Is there anything without a plastic carry bag so that the blood of fish and meat will not fall on the road when shopping?
The Calcutta Municipality, the Pollution Control Board and a large section of environmentalists claim that there are plenty of options. They said that in the case of low-micron plastics, the problem is not so much in use as in reuse. Because it cannot be recycled. After being thrown away they break into very small pieces. Then it cannot be removed separately. Mixes in different food ingredients. Many people collect plastic and burn it. When plastic is burned in this way, ‘carcinogenic’ (which can lead to cancer) substances like styrene or dioxin are produced. Therefore, the Ministry of Environment has stated in a guideline that the production, sale, import and distribution of any ‘single use’ plastic, including polystyrene, will be banned from July 2022. From next December, 120-micron polythene bags will have to be used. As a result, once-used plastic sweet boxes, cups, spoons, knives, bowls, packets of cigarettes, ice cream sticks – all will be banned.
Shuvendu Dutta, a chemistry teacher at a government college in Kolkata, said, “Carry bags are now made of polystyrene. A much safer option is the polyester carry bag than the plastic one. The bags can also carry liquids. Most polyesters are chemically recyclable. It can be done. But adequate surveillance is needed.”
Sujata Chatterjee, head of a company that makes plastic packet alternatives, said, “Many people say that the price of the alternative is high.” Sujata said she has started a project to make bags by cutting old clothes with women from marginal areas.
Shampa Dey Srinivasan is working to create such alternative content with people having special needs. “Our children are making paper, burlap and cloth bags. Somini Sen Dua, head of a voluntary organization, said the hawkers would be given free paper and buyers cloth bags at Gariahat next Thursday.” Bedika Khetawat, head of a cane company, said: “Hot food was served in plastic containers in lockdown by voluntary organisations. This initiative is to give some alternative to that harmful method.”
The owner of a factory for making bowls and dishes with betel leaves, Shyamal Santra of Jalpaiguri said,” We used to sit on betel leaves and play cars. That betel leaf is an alternative to plastic for me.”
In this way, different types of methods are being considered as alternatives to plastics in different places for a long time and they are also proving to be quite effective. As a result of this ban, it is hoped that in the future more volunteers and other organizations will be able to create beneficial alternatives with a variety of holistic approaches.