THE CROAK is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial.
Ban on single use plastic :
Government Initiatives  
On the occassion of Independence Day on 15 Aug 2019, the Prime Minister of India included the subject of single use disposable ( SUD) plastic in his address to the nation. This was a much awaited acknowledgement of the severe environmental pollution caused by SUDs along with a promise to address the issues associated with it. He offered the nation, the 2nd of October 2019, as a timeline to make all efforts to free the land of this menace. This is the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, whose vision of cleanliness has inspired the Swach Bharat Abhiyaan. 

How has the government responded to this vision? This issue of our newsletter looks at  the steps being taken by the government to implement this massive change. 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls for the nation to become plastic free 
The Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Notification ( and subsequent amendments)
On 23 March 2018, the government of Maharashtra declared a ban on single use plastics of many kinds. They had already alerted citizens about their intention to take this step six months earlier, giving people time to make the shifts necessary. When the notification was released, it was ambitious and covered many different items of concern. Over the next year, these items were discussed and some were exempted to make the ban more realistic. 
Original Notification 2018
Amendment on 11 April 2018 ( regarding PET bottles)
Amendment dated 30 June 2018 ( regarding food packaging materials)
Amendment on 14 June 2019 ( regarding bubble wrap)
Is it too early for bans - read an editorial from the Economic Times which cautions that until we have a policy reform  to look at utility value, availability of alternatives, life-cycle costs and resource efficiency, it may be counter productive to create blanket bans. 
Visual tools from the MPCB
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has published a visual guide to the items banned and allowed under the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Notification 2018. This visual guide may help clarify some of the confusions regarding specific items. 
A visual guide to the plastic ban
The 'Ban on Single Use Plastic' bill
Dr Shrikant Eknath Shinde , MP from Maharashtra has introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha which he called  the 'Ban on Single Use Plastic' bill. The bill outlines the scope of work for such a ban and the steps by which he feels it can be implemented. 
Read the document here
Highlights of this bill are as follows:
Definition of material:

means a synthetic material with high polymer as an essential ingredient such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high density polyethylene, vinyl, low density polyethylene, polypropylene, polystryene resins or multi-materials like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyephylene oxide, polycarbonate or polybutylene terephthalate;
"single-use plastic" means any disposable plastic item which is made for a
single use and is either thrown out or recycled.

Processes covered by bill
Use, Stock, Distribution, Manufacture, Sale or Trade 

Temporary Exceptions
(a) the polyethylene PET bottles of drinking water having liquid holding capacity
of one liter or more shall be allowed to be used temporarily for a period of one year from
the date of commencement of this Act;
(b) packaging materials for food and medicinal packaging made up of more than
fifty micron thickness plastic and of twenty per cent. recyclable plastic material with
manufacturer's details elaborately printed on it shall be allowed to be used for a period
of one year from the date of commencement of this Act or until notified otherwise by
the Central Pollution Control Board.

(a)Rs 500  for using plastic items for the first time;
(b) Rs 500 but which may extend upto Rs 5000 for
littering plastic items for the first time;
(c) Rs 10000 for using or littering plastic items for second time;
Ban on single
(d) RS 25000 and imprisonment for a term which may extend upto three months for third time;
(e)Rs 500,000  but which may extend upto Rs 50 lakhs for producing plastic material in addition to sealing of the manufacturing unit at once and imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend upto fifteen years; and
(f) Rs 500,000 but which may extend upto Rs 50 lakhs for using plastic as a packaging or wrapping material and imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend upto fifteen years.

Resources : Human and Finance
Clause 6 of the Bill provides for research and development of bio and renewable sources as a sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic. It also provides for organizing public awareness and programs to avoid usage of single-use plastic items. Clause 7 provides for appointment of manpower, materials and other services for carrying out the purposes of the Act. Clause 9 provides that the Central Government shall provide requisite funds for carrying out the purposes of this Act. The Bill, therefore, if enacted will involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India. It is likely to involve an annual recurring expenditure of about rupees one thousand crore from the Consolidated Fund of India. No non-recurring expenditure is likely to be involved.

The bill was introduced as a Private Member bill in the Lok Sabha on 26 July 2019 and has not yet been passed as of 25 Sept 2019. 
Government Resolution on Plastic Free Cities
A government resolution has been passed on creating Plastic free cities with some suggestions for citizens. 
Annexure- 2 
Guidelines for celebrating public events and Initiatives to make cities plastic free 
Sr. No. Suggested initiatives
1. Avoid one-time use plastic products for any public event. (e.g. water bottle, plastic utensils, cutlery, covers and containers) 
2.  To establish a repository of utensils to be provided for use at public events.
3. To appeal to the central government for urgent aid to recycle the plastic already in use.
4.  To establish a Material Recovery Plastic Center in each city.
5. To stop the one-time use plastic in all the government and public works and activities offices.
6. To establish a dialogue with all FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) to formulate an EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility)
7. To establish a joint Waste Management System for all waste collectors/ pickers, junk/scrap dealers and recycling agencies. 
8.` To create Anti- Plastic Use campaigns in the local languages, with the help of visual aids, Audio- Videos and broadcast and publish them through the medium of Radio, Television and Newspapers.
9. To collect with the help of NGOs and Self-help groups, cloth-bags from households, clean them, and re-distribute them to households.
10. To motivate citizens to use cloth bags/covers for gift items. 
11.  To motivate citizens to gift cloth bags during festivals.
12. To motivate Schools, Colleges, as well as NGO’s to take a pledge to make India plastic-free.
13.  To organize inter-school essay, painting, drama competitions around themes of cleanliness. 
14.  To organize Walkathons (Padyatras) as Citizen’s movements and to involve employees from government offices, NGO’s and Self-help group in the same. Local citizen groups to provide citizens with a cane and cloth bag to collect plastic garbage. 
15.  To motivate Citizen’s groups and NGO’s to be involved in cleanliness drives along sources of water, riverbanks and beaches. 
16. To motivate the hotel and restaurant owners along the seaside and sources of water against the use of plastic.
17. To motivate agencies, hotels and restaurants providing home-delivery services against use of plastic containers and select eco-friendly alternatives instead. 
18. To acknowledge the citizens who submit plastic to the established Material Recovery Plastic Center. 
19. To organize workshops/ lectures with experts in Plastics for the citizens to educate them on how one can make their city plastic-free.
20. Every religious leader/ orator must propagate through their speeches to citizens the reduced use of plastic. 
21.  At least one day in the month in every city to be designated as a plastic-free day.
22. To felicitate those NGOs of citizens who have done exceptional work in making the city plastic-free. 
23. To felicitate the now plastic-free residential societies, hotels, or those previously creating a large volume of plastic waste and have now adopted a plastic-free policy. 
Punitive action to implement the ban 
As per a news article in the Hindustant Times, as of 10 Oct 2018, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board had shut down 16 plastic manufacturing units that were banned. 
Read the article here
Further, closure notices had been served to 93 other plastic manufacturing units. Raids have been conducted on shops distributing plastic items. The government claims to have imposed fines on more than 6000 shops as of June 27. 2019 and have collected more than 4 crore rupees as fine. 
Fines collected from shops
This ambitious, yet absolutely crucial task of eliminating single use plastics form our lives, will take us some years to fulfil. Our next newsletter will look at how the industry is slowly making the shift...
The Croak is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial. Satirical, urgent and wise the newsletter brings to your attention, topics of global environmental relevance as well as emerging encouraging alternatives. Put together by a team of passionate Nature lovers, The Croak hopes to look at the environmental crisis in its face. It is a tool to reconnect readers to Nature, through questioning and self reflection. To understand the outer environment as a reflection of our own inner state, individually and as a species. And to take responsibility for enabling change.
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