Pune: While the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is confused about whether or not to impose a plastic ban in the city, local vegetable sellers, who have now stopped providing the customers with plastic bags are complaining that they are losing customers due to ban on plastic.
A State-wide plastic ban has been imposed in Maharashtra starting from Gudhi Padwa which was celebrated on March 18. It has been observed that when vegetable vendors refuse plastic bags to the customers, it is causing loss to the sellers.
However, the environmentalists feel that it's only after a behavioural change amongst people that plastic ban could be successful.
“I have stopped giving plastic bags to my customers since I was informed about the ban on plastic bags. While many of my regular customers do get cloth or paper bags of their own, many customers also say that they don't want to buy if we don't pack the vegetables in a plastic bags. We have a hard time convincing them and hardly ever people agree to take their veggies wrapped in a paper,” a vegetable vendor in Kothrud said.
However, a vegetable vendor in Kalyani Nagar also said that very few people bring cloth bags for vegetable shopping, and to save the business, he still has to keep plastic bags and give them if the customer insists.
Sheetal Kulkarni who resides in Uttam Nagar said, “The vendors in our area aren't giving away plastic bags to us for free like they did before, but now, they sell the thicker plastics bags for around Rs 5. However, I have observed some vendors as well as some shops that sell vegetables giving away plastic bags to their regular customers or acquaintances illegally."
Many vendors and shopkeepers have begun selling cloth bags for Rs 2, 3 or 5, instead of giving plastic bags. While the people are not yet fully convinced of buying cloth bags instead of getting plastic bags for free, the shift is taking place gradually, supermarket owners state.
Reacting to the issue, environmental activists in the city have stated that there is a major need for awareness and behavioural change in order to make such campaigns a success.
“Ban is secondary, primarily, there is a need to inculcate the importance of stopping the use of plastic among people. We tend to find loopholes in something that we are prohibited to do. Instead, we should first create a awareness among people about the ill effects of using plastic and then impose such a ban. Also, the government should bring in a mechanism to dispose of or recycle the already existing plastic waste,” said Medha Tadpatrikar of Rudra NGO.
While this is the case with most of the vegetable sellers, some supermarkets and e-commerce websites are still selling plastic bags.