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Absolutely All Plastic Bags Banned in Delhi

Absolutely All Plastic Bags Banned in Delhi

Plastic bags were banned in the Indian capital of Delhi in 2009. As of this past month, the government has imposed a far more extensive ban, with new rules outlawing plastic wrappers on magazines and greeting cards. The ban covers “all use, sale and manufacture of plastic bags in the city” and “no exceptions will be made,” as an anonymous official said to AFP (via the Telegraph). Plastic bags can also not be used for garbage collecting in the city and the bags cannot be imported, notes The Hindu.

Delhi’s population of 17 million generates 1.2 million pounds of trash, plenty of it plastic, per day. As the anonymous official comments, citing the health hazards to humans and animals:

Plastic is an environmental disaster. These bags clog the city’s drains, they are non-biodegradable. It might take time, but we have to ensure that this ruling is enforced throughout Delhi.

Unfortunately, the 2009 ban turned out to be mostly toothless, with fruit and vegetable vendors, small stores and restaurants offering take-out food still using cheap bags made of thin plastic.

Now those who violate the law could face a fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,807) or up to five years in jail, says the BBC. But how to actually carry out the ban remains an issue. The Hindu says that government officials “appeared at a loss on how to implement the stringent provisions.”

The new law has already been challenged. As in the U.S. and Canada, manufacturers of plastic are none too pleased about it. The All India Plastic Industries Association (AIPIA) has filed a lawsuit against the Delhi government and claims that the ban will mean the end of jobs for thousands of people who make plastic bags and sell them. The case is being heard by the Delhi High Court.

Canadian and U.S. cities including TorontoLos Angeles and Dana Point have banned plastic bags. Toronto is facing not one but two lawsuits from manufacturers over the ban.

Of course the Delhi ban will cause difficulties in the short term. There are few alternatives available; AFP (via the Telegraph) notes that bags from jute are popular but not widely available. Plastic bags can still be used for biomedical waste products and for packaging food (cooking oil, milk, flour) and plastic cups are still allowed.

The Delhi government has said that unspecified “efforts would be made to create awareness about the issue.” One effort ought to involve informing the public about alternatives to plastic bags and incentives to create, make and use them.

But the uproar over the law and the degree of reliance people are expressing about plastic bags make it all the more clear why a ban is needed. Plastic bags are just too convenient and too readily available and, human nature being what it is, people are highly unlikely to stop using them unless they are not there for the taking — something for us all to keep in mind, whether we’re in India or the U.S.


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3:38PM PDT on May 1, 2013

Proud of my hometown

2:38AM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

Kudos to the Delhi government and plastic bags should be banned everywhere!

12:41PM PST on Feb 22, 2013


11:21PM PST on Jan 21, 2013

we sure could use this too..

9:40PM PST on Jan 21, 2013

Awesome, now hopefuly their examply will inspire other places to do the same.

5:41PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

I'dlove to see a global ban on plastic bags! Good one india!! :-)

6:09AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

7:36AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

why don't they change plastic to something more environmentally friendly?

5:30PM PST on Dec 3, 2012

Good for them, and their wildlife & environment! But what about the USA? Safeway stopped giving the reusable bag refund even though they don't charge for the thousands of plastic bags they give out every day!

5:09PM PST on Dec 3, 2012

This has to become global quickly becuase we have a huge problem the size of Texas floating around at the moment in the ocean full of plastic bags, bottles etc.

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