The news about the plastic ban has been trending in the local and national media for almost a decade but in reality, it is a distant dream and implementation is next to impossible due to the strong lobby of plastic manufacturers and the nonavailability of sustainable alternatives.
The story that started during the Parrikar regime is still far from reality and municipal corporations only promising the plastic ban in the city. The reality is whether it’s single use or multiple uses, the consumer trash it after the single-use anyway and it keeps adding to the pile of plastic which is growing by the day. In fact, plastic is a major source of garbage generated daily in the state.
The Goa state pollution control board (GSPCB) and Goa Waste Management Corporation which is responsible for the implementation of the plastic ban are hardly doing much in reality to implement the actual ban except conducting the awareness campaigns to ensure the ban is successful.
The three-phase plan that includes The supply side interventions by stopping the supply of plastic raw material, followed by stopping manufacturing, sale, and usage of banned SUP items, and promotion of alternatives to SUP still remains a distant dream.
In the year 2017 Goa’s former CM Manohar Parrikar announced his plans to impose a ban on the use of plastic bags altogether. In October 2019, the state government notified a ban on the use of single-use plastics in all its offices and now we are in 2023 what is the outcome? ZERO! Single-use plastic is sold across the state openly, there is no control or ban on the manufacturers or suppliers.
According to the reports, to ensure the phaseout of single-use plastic the state government was supposed to carry out random inspections of plastic waste raw material suppliers to check that the same is not supplied to banned SUP producers, and additionally, authorities were supposed to identify major stockers, retailers and sellers district-wise of banned SUP items and issue directions to them to take necessary action to ensure zero inventory by June 30 but in reality, nothing has been done to stop the use of plastic in the state.
The Panaji Municipality CCP has once again bounced back into the news proclaiming the ban on single-use plastic and decided to penalize shops, wholesale outlets, and eateries that use single-use plastics and they have come up with the new year’s resolution. “From this year, a designated team will be formed to move about and penalize, seize and impose fines,” said one of the officials of CCP.
According to them after December 31, only plastic bags of 120-micron thickness will be permitted, as per the central notification issued by the Union environment ministry. The Union environment ministry issued a notification in 2021, which put into motion the process of banning single-use plastics entirely. While a ban on bags under 75 microns was imposed on September 30, 2021, all other single-use plastic items were supposed to be banned from July 1.
According to the reports, state officials are waiting for the Centre to implement its policy on manufacturer responsibility to deal with this menace by banning other single-use plastic items like plastic cups, spoons, earbuds, packaging, milk packets and plastic wrappers are being sold in Goa after being sourced from manufacturers in other states.
But the question is if the government is doing so much then what is stopping them from implementing the bans? The most proximate answer to this question is nonavailability of the sustainable alternatives to plastic. The ban will not stop people to use plastic unless the government or any other private agency creates a sustainable alternative to plastic.
Photo by Catherine Sheila