The Corporation of the City of Panaji has decided to act against fake bio-degradable carry bags being used by shopkeepers and which are being provided to customers as being eco-friendly. The Panjim Mayor said that shop owners have been supplying carry bags to customers claiming they are bio-degradable but the claim appears to be a fake one. CCP has decided to collect samples of the bags and test them, before busting the ‘fake bio-degradable carry bag racket’. While CCP’s proactive role in this is commendable, the bags in question are not newly introduced, and these are being offered to shoppers for months, why didn’t CCP act on this earlier?
This is not an issue restricted to the city of Panjim, but across all urban areas in Goa. When municipalities decided to implement the ban on plastic carry bags within their jurisdictions, they should have also ensured that the traders were given samples of the alternatives that could be used to replace the plastic material. Since this was not done, the local shopkeepers began to utilise the bags that were sold to them by distributors with the claim of them being bio-degradable. The enforcement on the part of the municipalities should have started at that particular time, rather than acting against the traders months later.
That said, the ban on plastics, carry bags especially, cannot be taken up for negotiation. The material is not bio-degradable and can sustain in the environment for decades, far longer than a person’s lifetime even, creating major pollution problems. This is the main reason why plastics, especially the non-recyclable ones, have to be phased out, as the threat they carry to the environment is tremendous.
According to available statistics, plastic that was first invented in the 1950s has become so common that over 8 billion metric tonnes of it have been produced, and just 9 per cent of this material has been recycled till now. Almost 80 per cent of plastic has been dumped in landfill sites or just strewn around. To confirm this all you have to do is just look at the dumping grounds in the State to see mounds of plastic or into any water body to see some form of plastic being whirled around by the current. But, its not just there, plastic has been found in the stomachs of cattle and of fish. It is prevalent almost everywhere and that threat has to be eliminated.
While enforcement of laws will play a role, if the fight against plastic is to succeed, then there has to be some sensitivity shown by the shopper too, who can carry a bag every time he or she goes to the market or the mall. It’s a very easy habit to create and a bag made up of cloth or jute can be folded and slipped into a purse of pocket and unfolded on making the purchases. Do those who go to the market really have to depend on the trader to give them that flimsy carry bag, one that often tears even before arriving home? The shopper too should see the benefits of carrying a bag, and not just depend on the authorities to act against the traders.
Last year’s World Environment Day theme had been ‘Beating plastic pollution – If you can’t reuse it, refuse it’. Apparently, a majority of us in Goa are yet to start believing in this and following it. Every person has to begin refusing single-use plastic otherwise the cleaner, greener world will remain but a distant dream. We have had a number of deadlines in the State of banning plastic. None have been met. The efforts are not being made, neither by the authorities nor by the people. Plastic will continue to pollute the environment.