India bans plastic bags "for good"

Featured - September 13th, 2012

Delhi plans to reinstate a ban on plastic bags as part worldwide efforts to curb the grave impact of the lightweight material on the environment, reports the Financial Times.

Sheila Dikshit, chief minister of the Delhi region, announced a more comprehensive ban following the cabinet’s approval on Tuesday. “The Delhi cabinet has decided to impose a ban on manufacture, sale, storage and usage of plastic bags in Delhi considering its adverse impact on the environment and ecology,” Ms. Dikshit said. According to The Times of India, the ban has been extended to all plastic bags – including biodegradable plastic of 40 microns, plastic magazine covers and packaging for greeting cards – with the exception of those used for biomedical waste. It is still unclear whether the directive would apply to black garbage bags. The environmental law will impose a penalty of five years imprisonment.

The public are seen as skeptical of the new ban as previous attempts passed by without making any difference, due to poor implementation. India attempted to prohibit the use, storage and sale of plastic bags in 2009 but the plan was widely ignored. Ms. Dikshit told FT that there would be “no leniency this time”.

Plastic bags are lightweight and useful but their repercussions to the environment are grave, as they are simply thrown away and can clog sewage or find their way to bodies of water and endanger sea animals mistaking them for food or getting caught up in them.