World Environment Day 2018

The ban on plastic in Maharashtra..Is it working?

On 23 March 2018, the state government of Maharashtra declared an extensive ban on plastic disposable items, taking the plastic problem head on. The scope of the ban was much larger than expected and soon after the declaration, debates began about whether this ban was realistic or not. Here is a report on several happenings in the past two months in Pune city...

Compiled by : Deepali Modi, Manisha Gutman and Tasneem Balasinorwala
Not surprisingly, soon after the declaration, the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association (AIPMA), The Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association ( MPMA) and the Plastic Bag Manufacturers Association of India ( PBMAI)   started to prepare to challenge it by law.

The Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association, PET Container Manufacturers Association, All India Plastic Manufacturers Association and Thermacol Fabricator and Decoration Association filed four petitions against the ban.

Their main points of  debate/ contention were

1. That plastic in itself is not the problem, but it is the indiscriminate and unplanned disposal of it that is a problem, thereby shifting the focus from the material to its disposal. 

2. That banning plastics would lead to a major loss of livelihoods. 

3. That the ban was targeting the wrong materials - as it had left out multi layered plastics that are in fact non recyclable and cause the bulk of the waste that reaches landfill. 

The industry claimed that the ban was impractical and unrealistic. 

Taking due note of the fact that Maharashtra produces nearly 1200 tonnes of plastic waste very day, the Bombay High Court refused to pass a stay order on the plastic ban deeming it 'reasonable'. The litigation however did result in the following changes:

1. Amendment to the rules to exclude recyclable materials. 
2. Pull back on prosecution of citizens for three months until June 23. 
3. Roll back on small ( 500ml) PET bottles on condition of paying a deposit. 
To study the impacts of the ban on the ground, four different committees were formed
•On the day the ban came into force, two committees were formed — an Empowered Committee under the chairmanship of the Minister for Environment to monitor the implementation of the ban and an Expert Committee to make recommendations for effective implementation of the ban. Then, in the first week of April, Ramdas Kadam announced a third committee consisting of 10 members from various associations, including government officials to look into the challenges of implementing the ban
•The decision to form the secretary-level committee, the fourth panel formed since the ban was imposed on March 23, was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday. On the committee are Additional chief secretary to the CM Pravin Pardeshi, additional chief secretary in the Environment Department Satish Gavai, additional chief secretary (Industries) Sunil Porwal and member secretary of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board P Anbalagan.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, which were notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in March 2016, have now been amended and shall be called Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018. (Amendment document  )

As per an article by the Centre for Science and Environment, the main highlights of these amendments include

1. A rule that involved explicit pricing of carry bags has been omitted and the requirement to pay a fee for the use of carry bags removed. 

Other minor amendments include the addition of two more definitions: one on ‘alternate use’ and one on ‘energy recovery’.

2. The term 'non-recyclable multilayered plastic if any' has been substituted by 'multi-layered plastic which is non-recyclable or non-energy recoverable or with no alternate use'. This gives plastic producers a scope to argue that their products can be put to some other use, if not recycled. This move  tantamounts to revoking a complete ban, which it had implied earlier. 

3. Centralised registration of all brand owners and producers with the Central Pollution Control Board.


In the field of waste management, extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products. Extended producer responsibility legislation is a driving force behind the adoption of remanufacturing initiatives as it "focuses on the end-of-use treatment of consumer products and has the primary aim to increase the amount and degree of product recovery and to minimize the environmental impact of waste materials". ( Wikipedia)

The idea of extended producer responsibility (EPR), which was introduced in the rules of 2016, still remains nowhere close to being implemented even after two years.

In the absence of appropriate collection and recycling facilities, both in the private and government sectors, there has been resistance to implement the EPR concept in India. Private brand owners are reluctant to bear the additional costs of EPR, To be effective, EPR strategies would require segregation at source, budgets for implementation of EPR and accountability of waste generated. The challenge of separating waste by brand also remains unsolved. 

On the consumer lever, the possibility of recycling of plastic waste , seems to excuse the rampant use of plastic disposables as it takes the onus off form the consumer. While essential plastic products need to be continued and appropriately managed, non essential disposables need not be. A move towards reuse has become imperative, as plastics are still using non renewable resources. 

The ban on plastic disposables has raised the bar in terms of public awareness and more intensified efforts have been seen by citizens groups and NGOs in Pune. Some of these include :

Creation of cloth bag banks: ( Samarth Bharat )
The Samarth Bharat group invited several NGOs and volunteers to participate in a drive to create cloth bag banks in societies in different parts of Pune. The concept would be to create a bank of cloth bags at the entrance of a society where consumers can borrow and deposit the cloth bags . This would minimise the need to own several cloth bags and allow sharing of resources. The cloth bags would be made by women self help groups providing an income to them as well. 
River clean up and brand audit : (Swach Coop)
A river clean up and brand audit on plastic waste was organized by SWaCH coop , Mahrashtra Plastic Manufacturers Associationand PMC in collaboration with eCoexist and Jeevitnadi Nadi on 20th may, in Pune.The objective of the drive was to clean a section of the river, analyse the plastic waste collected and to check which brands of products show up the most in the collection..
Among present were Madhuri Sahasrabuddhe, MLA, Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association members led by Mr Ravi Jasani, members of SWaCH Coop, clean up experts, activists and citizens of Pune. Consumer groups such as the Grahak Peth and organizations such as Pune Zilla Gruha Nirman Mahasangh were also present.
The drive took place on the riverbed of the Mutha river from Mhatre bridge to PMC building. The participants collected trash weighing 500 KGs. After collection all the waste was segregated according to pre decided criteria defined by the SWaCH team. The criteria looked at properties such as material, resale value, recyclability and seperateability. The bulk of the volume collected involved single layer and multi layered plastics. Brands were identified on mettallised film packets and it became evident that the river side attracted a certain kind of waste as opposed to any other location such as a school or a temple. 

The results of the brand audit will be published by Swach on 3rd June 2018. 
Several other events took place some of which are listed below:

Following are the various events that took place in City of pune After the plastic ban is announced. These were extracted from the "plastic ban awareness" whatsApp group which has close to 80 members.
While the debates around the scope of the plastic ban continue, certain stores ave stepped into the fray and have started implementing necessary changes at least to replace plastic carry bags with reusable cloth bags. D Mart, Reliance Fresh and Natures Basket are some of the larger 

As per an article in LiveMint,, retailers such as Gurugram-based Grofers India, Godrej Nature’s Basket (GNB) and Avenue Supermarts Ltd, which operates the D-Mart chain, are pre-empting deep repercussions from the ban by moving towards alternatives and doing it swiftly. refers ia aiming to become a zero plastic organisation across all locations. 

On the ground in Pune, with the extension of the timeline for disposal shifted to June 23, stores are using the extra three months to dispose off whatever stocks of plastic carry bags they had with them. Some citizens groups have started organising collection of plastic waste where they are inviting stores to dump their existing stocks of plastic bags for recycling. 

The awareness regarding the ' non woven' materials is still low, and several smaller retail stores are seen offering these at a price to consumers. 

To meet the demand for a simple and affordable cloth bag, eCoexist developed a thin cotton bag which can be retailed at Rs 20 only. This bag offers an income of Rs 7 per bag to the women who make it. Marketing of the bag is done for free and other overheads are borne by eCoexist. To enable the widespread distribution of these bags, eCoexist has invited individuals and NGOs to participate in the network and has sent stocks of the cloth bags to people across Pune. They are available with: 

Manju Shah | Aundh | 95525 49395
Kaustubh Shah | Aundh | 98811 94946
Pushpa Singh | Wagholi | 88881 00859
Vicky | Katraj | 95459 85353
Smitha Naik | Balewadi | 88066 68511
Amita Deshpande | Karvenagar | 90047 80123
Trupti Nulkar | Sadashiv Peth | 98228 45155
Udit Bansal | Bund Garden | 98222 61911
Suchismita Pai | Magarpatta | 70309 02001
Manasi Karandikar | Kothrud | 98500 89720
Shailaja Deshpande | Aundh | 98223 91941
Manisha Jadhav | Bavdhan | 98902 89818
Manisha Gutman | Kalyani nagar | 98500 84383

If any of you would like to participate in this effort or promote these bags in your own areas please do contact any of the above or write to us at [email protected]

An educational poster campaign to promote the use of cloth bags was launched by eCoexist on 1st June - this campaign has been funded by the Cummins Foundation and is done in collaboration with the Pune Municipal Corporation which will spread the word through social media. 

The cloth bags can be used as a medium to educate people about the ban and the need to switch to reusable cloth bags. A few different products have been developed to spread the message to the public.
To inquire about the cloth bags please call Nikita at 9049143522 or
email us at cloth [email protected]
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