Does state exempt secondary packaging from plastic ban?

Neha Basudkar
Tuesday, 26 June 2018

In a move that gives relief to shopkeepers, the State government has reportedly exempted secondary packaging from the plastic ban.

Pune: In a move that gives relief to shopkeepers, the State government has reportedly exempted secondary packaging from the plastic ban. According to highly placed sources in the Plastic Task Force instituted by State government, at a meeting convened on June 20, secondary packaging was exempted from the ban. Similarly, the raids on the shops are likely to be stopped from Tuesday, revealed the sources. 

Secondary packaging means the plastic cover or plastic used to wrap material used by retail industry or by any self-help group. As per the GR of March 23, after June 23 the manufacture, usage, sale, transport, handling and storage of plastic was completely banned but as per the information available with Sakal Times secondary packaging will be now exempted from the ban. 

The decision was taken at the recent meeting with the Expert Committee and members of the Plastic Committee with Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam and Chief Secretary of Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board P Albangan. The decision has not yet been made public as the empowered committee was contemplating it. Confirming the events, Vijay Habbu, member of the Plastic Task Force told Sakal Times that on June 20 when they had a meeting with Kadam and Albangan they discussed the problems likely to be faced by retailers. 

Finally, it was decided that along with primary packaging, secondary packaging irrespective of microns will be exempted from the ban. A revised notification will be released soon.

Background
Initially the State government released a public notice on January 2 stating that   polythene carry bags; items made from plastic and thermcol including plates, cups, glass, forks, bowls, spoons, flex, non-woven polypropylene bags, banners, toran, flags, plastic sheets and every types of plastic packaging and manufacturing, usage, storage, distribution and sale will be banned. 

On March 23, they came up the GR which stated: “Plastic” means material which contains as an essential ingredient a high polymer such as polyethylene terephthalate, high density polyethylene, vinyl, low density polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene resins, polystyrene (thermocol), non-oven polypropylene, multi-layered co extruder, polypropylene, polyterephthalate, polyamides, polymethyl methacrylate and plastic micro beads. These will be banned under the the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 2006. 

According to the GR exempted items included PET bottles, milk bags and packaging material used for medicines, solid waste and agriculture sector. Later, they started twisting parameters and gradually included flex, plastic sheets, primary packaging (plastic cover or plastic to wrap material used at the manufacturing stage or is an integral part of manufacturing), thermocol used for Ganpati decoration, plastic bags or plastic used for packaging of medicines, plastic and plastic bags for export purpose only, the plastic used for handling of solid waste (for example garbage used at homes) and food grade virgin plastic bags not less than 50 micron thickness used for packaging of milk. 

Today in the city
So far the PMC has collected 8,711 kg plastic from shops and fine of Rs 500 from each shop owner, which came to Rs 3,69,100. The retail, sweet, farsaan and dairy shop owners were irked and called for a bandh on Monday to protest against the double standards of the government. They protested outside the PMC on Monday. During the protest, Sachin Nivagune, Pune District Retail Traders Association President, said, “If plastic is banned, all types of plastic should be banned. Why the government is making  retailers and small businessmen suffer? Just because the branded companies are situated in western countries their packaging will be allowed.”

“If secondary packaging is banned, how will we be able to pack any commodity in it. In monsoon, some commodities have less shelf life and by using plastic their shelf life is extended,” added Nivagune.
Suryakant Pathak, owner of Grahak Peth and Vice President of the association said, “The retail shop owners are not rich to shell out Rs 5,000 as fine.  Sometimes they do not have have the business of Rs 2,000 a day.” 

The Mithai, Farsan and Dairy Association Pune also conducted a strike. Arvind Budhani, Secretary said, “Both associations welcome the plastic ban, but the government should give an alternative to it.” They met Girish Bapat, Guardian Minister and Saurabh Rao, Commissioner of PMC sharing their grievances. Bapat said, “I will put up this matter before the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.” Rao made both associations happy by revealing that secondary packaging will be allowed and the civic body will not raid  shops.

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