After almost a year of intensive awareness programmes on the need to curb use of plastic products and the colossal harm its waste can have on the environment and living organisms, single-use plastics will be totally banned in the entire start starting today. The government of Nagaland had informed through an official gazette notification on June 17 this year, several months after the “Policy for Restricting the Use of Plastics in Nagaland” was announced, that the total ban would become effective in the state after three months, giving enough time to the manufacturers, stockists, shopkeepers and others to dispose off their stocks and to ensure that no financial loss is caused to them. The dateline expired on Monday. This means individuals, institutions and commercial establishments will now be penalised if they are found using single-use plastic products like plastic carry bags, plastic cutlery, decorative made of styrofoam (thermocol), polythene, nylon, poly-vinyl-chlorides (P.V.C.), poly-propylene and poly-styrene. To implement the ban, district task force has been constituted in respective districts while the district administration and local bodies have been given the free hand to decide and levy penalties on the defaulters in their respective jurisdictions.
The state government has taken a bold move despite knowing the possible backlash it might receive from some sections of the society, especially the business community. But the ill-effect of rampant plastic use is too big an issue to ignore. It is encouraging to see several civil society organisations coming out in support of the government’s policy in view of the serious environmental and ecological challenges posed by plastics. Some retail shops in the state too have started using paper bags. However, most business establishments still use plastic products for packaging purposes, indicating that it may take some time before it is completely stopped.
Any policy, however good and important it may be, needs the support of the public for successful implementation. The success of plastic ban too will depend on the response of the citizens for the simple reason that the authorities cannot monitor every corner of the state. It is now necessary for the business community, including e-commerce giants like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra etc. to reciprocate to the call of the state government and stop using plastic bags for packaging.
In the meantime, the state government and private entrepreneurs should find viable eco-friendly alternatives to plastic carry bags and ensure that it is produced in large quantity, large enough to meet the needs of the market. It is important to look into supply aspect or else people will be forced to use plastic items again if they are left with no alternative. The ban on plastic products may cause inconvenience initially but people should understand that only such a pragmatic measure can save the world. The little inconvenience we endure today will become a blessing for the generations to come.