An effective ban on sticky plastic would require greater public awareness, economic incentives, greater investment in alternatives and a targeted emphasis on recyclingAnd now it starts again. The government is quick to implement something without thinking about the consequences. It was with great enthusiasm that the ban on disposable plastics on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi's 150th anniversary should be sought - a fitting tribute, except that life after the ban, was not taken into account.
It would be the hygienic equivalent of a parent who suddenly decides to wean his baby from the bottle without realizing what harm it is likely to cause. But like a new parent, the forces that have learned with experience. Well, at least this time, they had the common sense to push back the ban before we saw anything like the serious after-effects of demonization and kicking the GST into economic nuts.
As for disposable plastics, people still have to carry things around with them, companies still have to send their goods into something, and lakhs of people work in the industry. This can not be achieved simply by carrying a reusable fabric bag with you to do your Sabzi shopping.
Yes, plastic is harmful to the environment,
But a ban has the same impact as the alcohol embargo in the hostels of engineering colleges. A rollback to the ban was predictable, as it was clear that the country and the economy were in no way prepared for such drastic changes. So why the hurry to announce it at all? The optic of course. What a message, especially in the age of Greta Thunberg, to communicate to political opponents, the media and the world that plastics were banned on this auspicious day, much like the country is now (apparently) free to open 100 percent open bowel movements.
It's not like the government broke new ground here. Countries around the world - many of them with similar social and economic challenges - have been trying out different models for decades to get rid of plastic. There is a lot of literature and the trends are inevitable for anyone looking for them. For example, last year the United Nations published a comprehensive report on every single plastic ban or reduction initiative.
Everyone.From countries from the USA to Papua New Guinea. And if someone had bothered to read this report, or just look at the summary, if they were starving (these statues do not build themselves, you know!), They would know that a ban like that, that India looked, it would befall miserably. Previous such efforts - without investing in viable alternatives - have resulted in people ignoring the ban or leading to a black market (as in Kenya, Cameroon, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe). It's not that people love plastic - they need its functionality.
So if there is no alternative that is easily available and cheap, people will find a way to return to what they have used before, especially if the enforcement is lax. In fact, bans are only successful if some basic issues are addressed: public awareness campaigns, investment in alternatives (eg promoting the use of paper and cloth bags), creating an efficient recycling process, and then systematic economic stimulus incentivesSwitching from plastics. In particular, the last point was successful worldwide - nothing is better than the good old economy.
Whenever a low price for the consumption of plastics is levied without making it illegal, people will find a way to use alternatives. But as we have seen in the past, our government believes that enforcement will be more effective than the election. That is rarely the case.
If you look at this UN study, any country that has successfully reduced its plastic consumption has eventually imposed a tax on the producer, the seller or the consumer. Hell, Botswana has managed to reduce the consumption of plastic bags by 50 percent in 18 months by introducing a levy. We then need to find viable, scalable solutions that companies can use without plastics - at a price that will not hurt either the consumer or the business. But hey, our government is all about optics - how unpopular would it be if they said we had to pay more for plastic? Unlike other areas such as education, there is no "poor" beneficiary who helps doctors write a nice message.
The other solutions that helped countries cut plastics are unlikely to be adopted by India: "We've built an efficient nationwide recycling system!" Or "we've commissioned a study to study plastic alternatives!" It does not sound like that sexy like "No more plastics in India, we do best, BMKJ!".Unfortunately, no country has succeeded in enforcing a ban without going through these boring steps, and there is no reason to believe that India can do anything else. Forget that the economy is coming to a standstill, life will come to a standstill if you just cut plastic out of the equation. And no, it's not just about telling urban elites Zomato about it