India’s capital city of New Delhi, as well as the greater city of Delhi, have taken upon themselves to put a stop to the overwhelming plastic pollution in India. In December 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) voted on banning all one-time-use plastics throughout the entire region of the metropolis. This new law came into effect as of January 1st, 2017.
This new law applies to disposable plastics such as produce bags, plastic cutlery and plastic cups. The problem is that not everyone is onboard with this new law, even though it will help the city immensely when it comes to the sheer amount of trash generated.
Most fruit and vegetable vendors, for instance, are concerned that they will lose business if they’re no longer allowed to give bags to their customers. They are afraid that this will deter them from visiting their shops and will go elsewhere.
The problem is big indeed. India, alongside four other Asian nations, is responsible for about 60 percent of all the plastic that ends up in the ocean each year. That’s some 8.8 million tonnes. By 2025, that number is said to reach 20 million, or 80 percent of all plastic.
Each vendor will be fined the sum of US $147 if found throwing garbage in the streets. The biggest problem with this law, however, will be the implementation. While other countries have gotten accustomed to cloth bags, India has not. There is also the alternative of paper bags, which are not as dangerous or as polluting as plastic ones, but they too pose a serious threat to the environment, primarily due to deforestation. Furthermore, as vendors put it, they are not as durable and can’t hold as much weight as plastic ones.
There is also another alternative which comes in the form of edible plastic bags. Though not intended for human consumption, these bags designed by an Indian company named EnviGreen, can be less harmful to the many animals that roam the city’s streets and feed from the garbage piles. The question of plastic water bottles is still unclear. Bottled water is a primary source for both residents and tourists alike.