Heavy penalty for plastics

Mumbai in India has rolled out a stern ban to clean up its beaches and streets scarred by plastic trash.

Mumbai in India has rolled out a stern ban to clean up its beaches and streets scarred by plastic trash.

Businesses and residents found using disposable plastic bags or cups could face penalties of 5,000 rupees (US$73) for a first-time offence, and 25,000 rupees or even three months in jail for repeated violations, AFP reported. To enforce the ban, the local government dispatched 250 officials to inspect shops and restaurants across the city.

The inspectors collected 660,000 rupees in fines during the first three days of enforcing the ban.

Some proposed to reduce the fine to 200 rupees, saying that many cannot afford such a heavy penalty. But that’s probably why the fine can be a deterrent.

A few years ago, to limit the use of plastics, supermarkets in China were told to charge a fee on plastic shopping bags. This does not seem to solve the plastic problem, because most residents can afford the charge. The supermarkets, on the other hand, stand to gain 60 million yuan (US$9 million) in profits annually.

Besides, vendors and stalls continue to hand out bags for free. Their robust demand enables manufacturers of such bags to ply a thriving business. The rise of online shopping and take-out business have significiantly aggravated the problem.

It is estimated that China’s three major online food delivery platforms, Baidu Waimai, Ele.me and Meituan use over 20 million plastic bags and over 60 million plastic containers per day.

Apparently, regulations to curb plastic bag use in e-commerce and food delivery business are much needed.

Hopefully the Mumbai practice could shed light on a true solution.


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