Starting in March 2018, India’s second most-populous state is set to implement a ban on most types of non-reusable plastics. Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, India’s biggest city, will roll out a ban that includes single-use plastic bags, flex boards, banners, and disposable containers and utensils. Certain exemptions will be allowed for packaging for food and other goods. To increase the ban’s effectiveness, the state government will be pushing an awareness campaign to make sure people are prepared once the new laws are enforced.
This isn’t the first time Maharashtra has tried a plastic ban. In 2005 plastic pollution was blamed for clogging Mumbai’s drains during devastating floods that brought the city to a standstill. The following year the state banned single-use plastic bags under 50 microns. Previous efforts to ban plastic bags had little impact because of limited enforcement and a lack of awareness about why the ban was important.
Across India many plastic bag bans having recently taken effect, reflecting a nationwide desire to take on the growing issue of plastic pollution and waste management. While there are regions where bans have had the desired effect, the challenge has been in effective and consistent enforcement.
This time around, the Maharashtra state government is determined to succeed. Besides the awareness campaign, the state environment minister, Ramdas Kadam, is meeting with local officials from the state’s different regions to ensure that implementation is uniform and effective. Additionally, the government is reaching out to citizens at the local level, offering financial incentives to villages and municipalities that take the initiative and tackle plastic pollution themselves.
The goal is to transform a state-led anti-pollution drive into a people’s movement, similar to the Versova beach clean-up in Mumbai, where thousands volunteer their time every weekend to collect trash on the beach. What started with two people a couple of years ago, has now become the world’s largest beach clean-up.
The ban is set to begin in March and will eventually be rolled out in its entirety through 2018. This coincides with India’s partnership with the UN in hosting World Environment Day, which this year focuses on the issue of plastic pollution.