Starting January 1, 2020, the Kerala government has banned single use plastics.

Kerala retailers worry about how plastic ban will impact them say they need more timeRepresentative image from Pixabay
news Plastic ban Wednesday, January 01, 2020 - 16:44

Kamarudheen, a small-scale vegetable shop owner in Kasaragod district of Kerala, is concerned about the ban of plastic bags in Kerala -- he fears his sales might be affected with this. "If we don't give plastic bags, consumers will not buy things from us. We cannot provide them cloth bag free of cost as it’s costly. There should be some alternatives," he said.

Like Kamarudheen, several retailers are concerned about Kerala government’s decision to ban single use plastics from January 1, 2020. While Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured that the state has taken all necessary measures for alternatives to deal with the ban. But the association of retailers -- Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti (KVVES) has strongly condemned the decision of the government and asked for more time to implement the ban.

According to the rules under the ban, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers who violate the law for the first time can be fined Rs 10,000. For the second offence the fine would be Rs 25,000. Third time violation will result in a fine of Rs 50,000 and cancellation of their work permit. Local authority secretaries and Pollution Control Board officials will be entrusted to take action.

KVVES has informed that they will go on an indefinite strike if the fines are implemented immediately.

"Traders bought plastic carry bags worth lakhs and still have the stock left. They have spent huge money on it and suddenly how can that be banned? We are not against the plastic ban. We also wanted this to be removed, but we need time. It cannot be achieved all of a sudden," Y Vijayan, General Secretary, of KVVES Thiruvananthapuram district committee, told TNM.

He also said that government should ensure that public is made aware before implementing the ban. 

"People are not fully aware. They don't buy things from retailers who don't provide carry bags. It is government's responsibility to make them aware of necessity to bring a carry bag to get things from shops. Without these measures in place, we cannot comply with the ban," Vijayan added.

In a press meet in Kozhikode on Monday, KVVES state President T Nazrudheen alleged that the decision of Kerala government will only affect the small scale retailers and it will not affect the multi-national traders who use plastic items freely.

Shibu K Nair, Programme Director (zero waste) of Thanal, an environmental NGO , told TNM that concerns raised by retailers should be considered by the government. "They have spent a lot of money on plastic carry bags and have also paid tax for it. Government should have discussed with them earlier and taken alternative measures. If they try, government can takes measures without causing loss to the retailers – there aren’t many who possess large quantity of plastic carry bags in the first place," he said.

The Kerala High Court has ordered that no action shall be taken against those who violate plastic ban till January 15. Though the officials of local self-governments across the state have started inspections in retail shops, it is only for raising awareness right now.

The state government had instructed the Beverages Corporation, Kerafed, Milma, and Water Authority to get back the plastic covers and bottles they sell as part of Extended Producers Responsibility Plan of the state government as well. 

It was on November 22, 2019,that it was decided in a cabinet meeting to ban plastic carry bag (regardless of thickness), plastic sheets used to spread on tables, cooling film, plates, cups, thermocol and Styrofoam for decorative purposes, all single-use plastic cups, plates, spoons, forks, straws, dishes and stirrers.