Kerala to enforce single-use plastic products from Friday

The Union Government has announced the ban on the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of certain single-use plastic products that have low utility and a high potential for littering on July 1. These include earbuds with plastic sticks, candy sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, ice-cream sticks, plastic flags, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, and glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping of packing film around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packs, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, and stirrers.

The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, already prohibit the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of plastic carry bags having a thickness of fewer than 75 microns. Apart from this, the State Government had banned the manufacture, sale, storage, and transportation of single-use plastic as far back as January 2020. But the ban could not be enforced properly due to the COVID-19 situation that followed.

The list of banned single-use plastic products in the State includes a plastic carry bags irrespective of thickness; garbage bags; non-woven bags, plastic flags, and buntings; PET/PETE bottles of drinking water of capacities less than 500 ml; plastic-coated paper cups, plates, bowls, and paper carry bags; plastic/plastic-coated leaves used as plates; plastic packets (use of plastic packets in retail outlets for packing fruits and vegetables; plastic sapling bags; plastic sheets used as table spreads; plastic water pouches, non-branded plastic juice packets; plates, cups, and decorations made of thermocol; PVC flex materials, plastic-coated cloth; and single-use plastic utensils such as cups, plates, spoons, and straw.

The plastic prohibition is enforced by local authorities and the police jointly. While some neighborhood organizations are aggressive about it, others lack the necessary resources. According to the officials, establishing up district-level squads to pressure local bodies into action is being considered in such situations.

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