The West Bengal government is calling on entrepreneurs to come up with innovative products made out of plastic waste.
West Bengal urban development minister and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim said on Monday that plastic law violators will be penalised, while private entrepreneurship will be encouraged to solve the menace.
“We will soon impose fines and lodge cases against (plastic norm) violators in the KMC area and gradually extend it to other municipalities,” Hakim told The Plurals.
Asked about a recent national report that stated that nearly two-third of the plastic waste generated in West Bengal is disposed of illegally, Hakim said, “We are also inviting entrepreneurs to come up with innovative business ideas. Several household products can be manufactured with plastic waste and these may even replace wooden furniture. I have also asked the Indian Plastic Federation to explore the ideas,” he said.
According to the Plastic Management Act, “Each local body must set up infrastructure for segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste either on its own or by engaging agencies.” It also mentions specific fines and legal actions for both users and vendors using illegal plastic carry bags. While individuals will be fined Rs 50, vendors will have to cough up Rs 500 if plastic bags of less than 75 microns are used. The minimum thickness limit is set to increase to 120 microns by December 31, 2022.
“Currently, most retail shops in Kolkata and elsewhere are using see-through plastic carry bags with thickness much less than 50 microns,” said an urban development official. “Extremely thin plastic carry bags have little resale value and hence these are even discarded by ragpickers,” he said.
Two lakh tonne plastic waste dumped in 2019-20
During 2019-20, around 2 lakh tonne plastic waste was left to pollute the environment in West Bengal, according to a recent assessment published by environmental think tank, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
According to the report, the state had generated above 3 lakh tonnes of plastic waste during the period, of which only 39,031 tonnes (around 13 per cent), was recycled and 60,047 tonnes (about 20 per cent), were burnt legally and the rest were either disposed of or burnt illegally.
“There is no structured system of collecting plastic waste in Kolkata and the rest of the state apart from a few units. The collection by thousands of ragpickers every day is not acknowledged in the official report,” alleged Sasanka Deb of non-profit Disha, which works in the sector of waste management.
West Bengal is fifth among states having maximum plastic waste disposed of illegally. Maharashtra, with 2.9 lakh tonnes, tops the list and is closely followed by Tamil Nadu. Gujarat is the third-worst in the category of “total plastic waste left” without treatment followed by Telangana.
The trend is similar in the entire country. Nearly 68 per cent of the total generated waste of around 34 lakh tonnes, that is a whopping 23.5 tonnes, was disposed of in the environment illegally.