Awareness & initiative needed
It is the responsibility of the people, manufacturers and also the government to ensure that the ban on single-use plastic is made effective. Collective efforts will help enable us to achieve the goal and keep a healthy environment for our future generations, expressed the expert panel at this week’s Deshdoot Samwad Katta that enabled discussion and obtained perspectives from various stakeholders in Nashik regarding the ban on one-time-use plastic.
The panel comprised of Manish Gupta, from Nashik Plastic Manufacturers’ Association, Maya Khodwe of Mahila Shramshakti, an NGO for rag pickers, Suvarna Deshpande from Gaurii’s Corporation, a jute and cotton bag producing unit and Milind Pagare, an environmental and traffic awareness activist who was dressed in a eye-catching ‘Yama’ costume. The discussion was mediated by the executive editor of Deshdoot and Deshdoot Times Dr Vaishali Balajiwale.
Speaking on the topic Manish Gupta said, “There is a requirement for clarity regarding the definition of Single-Use Plastic”. He said that as part of the extended producers’ responsibility they have coordinated with the NMC, and offered to pay for the segregation of plastic wastes, which is the first and most critical part of managing the menace.
“These wastes can be used to make fuel similar to diesel,” he said. He even highlighted an innovative initiative by one of the city schools where an inter-house competition is being held and the winner would be decided on the basis of which group collected the most plastic waste.
Maya Khodwe who deals with about 3500 plastic waste collectors or rag pickers in Nashik, said that the pickers willingly retrieve the bigger items because of the value. “However the pickers are not willing to waste effort on smaller plastic waste like wrappers, because they do not provide commensurate remuneration. These are the items that are causing maximum damage “ she said. She also added that due to doubts existing on the final policy, contractors have temporarily suspended the procurement of plastic wastes, and the wastes were piling up. Manish Gupta immediately offered to get the waste collected.
Suvarna Deshpande believes that responsibility lies with producers as much as users. Her unit ceased production of bags made of non-woven polypropylene ‘fabric’ the moment the ban was imposed in the state, despite the financial loss. She also opined that it is mainly the responsibility of the individual to do the right thing by not using plastic bags and no reusable plastic. “If we follow rules strictly on our own individual level, we will contribute to a larger goal”, she emphasized.
Milind Pagare said that his travels in 9 to 10 states in India revealed to him, the total lack of awareness on the matter. He urged citizens to give up the use of single-use plastic items like carrying bags, cutlery, decorations and bottles. He said that it is important to tell the children and at the same time adults need to set examples by their own behaviour. “If we want our children to live in a better world, we will have to take steps now”, he reiterated.