Plastics are elastic tics. They last, even if they know they aren’t wanted. They were banned, but never went away because they weren’t told about the law and didn’t care if they did.
You might think that India makes a lot of plastic and you are wrong. It makes a lot More than you think or the states report. Much more plastics are made than said. According to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board, just 14 out of 35 regional pollution boards really came out with how much plastic they generated in 2017-18.
That itself worked out to 660,787.85 tonnes. If that makes your head swim, then hold on – it’s only the good news. This was information shown by only 60 percent of India’s states and union territories, so you don’t even know what was made beyond that.
But at least, in 2016, the Plastic Waste Management Rules in its wisdom had banned the use of plastic bags that were thinner than 50 microns. It instead brought in a registration fee for producers, importers of plastic carry bags and sellers. Plastic carry bags, flex banners, plates, cups and spoons were not allowed. And that sounded So impressive that it became So invisible.
The banning did change from state to state. The sun rose this year on four states banning single-use, disposable plastics, especially for what you eat – food items. Bangalore is now planning to ban these plastics too. But everyone knows that most Plans are immortal and never become Actions.
Still, while the humble plastic has always had a rake’s reputation for toxins, it wasn’t banned earlier for food items, at least. Maybe the logic was that people have to eat first before they can begin to worry about being poisoned slowly. But now at last, the thought that hot food might be letting the plastic atoms into it isn’t a pleasant thought, so hotel owners have been told to stop them.
However, some eatery owners have found the rule partial and biased. The majority of hotel owners point out angrily that all single-use plastics should be banned, even if someone shows favouritism towards smaller hotels and punish only the bigger ones. The ban should be “implemented across the board”, without appeasing anyone, is the point.
Anyway, even then the rules need to be looked up to ensure whether they are really banned or got unbanned along the way. Why else aren’t they going away, but sticking like burrs that think they are our body parts? Look around. You find those ugly, garish bits and pieces everywhere, even if they are thrown away thoughtfully by activists they make way for new ones. They become globules in water, stones in stomachs, stubborn materials that have got into fishes, plants, insects, meat and milk.
You know they are hanging around to get liked. They have wide, false smiles and are cheap in looks, character and intent. You can see what they do in our houses. These objects hurt the eye and ear with their screams. But still they spread out their hands and look inviting.