I knew that Maharashtra is implementing a plastic ban. But how are they going to implement it on the ground is the big question. Merely banning something is not enough, what is crucial is its implementation. There are states which have a plastic ban in place but you still see plastic in those states. If you go to pristine states like Uttarakhand, Himachal or Kashmir, you would see ravines of plastic. Because plastic is not just plastic bags. It is the wrapper of most consumer goods. So, whether it is your biscuits or your chips, it is present in some form or the other. And people are consuming and throwing. The existence of those plastic ravines is evidence that there are no collection systems to manage that waste. So let alone collection, segregation, disposal, upcycle, and downcycle, none of that takes place because the collection systems to handle that waste don’t exist.

It is true that government intervention through laws and policies can change that. One of the laws that I have discovered and this is the sense that I got from it (although one would need to go into the fine print to find out the details) is that the government apparently has made FMCGs responsible for their own waste. So, if you are a chocolate company and you have manufactured a certain quantity of chocolate, it means that after the people have consumed that product, wrapper is left behind and which has to go somewhere. You make the FMCG responsible for that quantum of waste. Obviously, you can’t expect them to collect the same wrapper from everywhere but they can be held accountable.

There is a lot of money in waste segregation and management

Why don’t you see a coke bottle lying in dust bins, waste dumps or landfills? Because it functions in a systemic way in which people get money for collecting it and therefore it goes back. So either you set up a system where you tell a customer that deposit the packaging that you got the product in back at the retail outlet or make the consumer company responsible for that quantum of waste. And in doing that we may actually discover that a significant reduction in the amount of waste that we see lining our streets, waysides and agricultural fields, and our seas and forests. So, there is a lot of money in waste. If people just invested in infrastructure and waste management to segregate and recycle plastic, it would be a win-win situation for all.

So, good news is that there are laws in place. Problem is that the laws are not being implemented on the ground. A part of civil society has to repeatedly make people aware and responsible for their actions. That is where you and I come in. The best thing that we can do for the environment today is reduce and stop the use of plastics in our daily lives. India is going to host the World Environment Day. And the theme of this Day is to beat plastic pollution. The world is coming together to combat single-use plastic pollution. And please remember that plastic cannot be recycled infinite times, it has a limitation. Plastics can only be recycled 7 times and that too a certain grade of it, which is why we say that ban plastic bags because they don’t have a life beyond the one that they currently have. And it stays in the system for almost 500 years. It is a terrible, terrible piece of utility.

Make the plastic ban a success

Let’s take a pledge to remove plastics from our lives completely so that we can continue to enjoy nature and the environment without adulteration. I request my followers to cooperate with the authorities and make plastic disappear from our lives and make plastic ban a success. My battle on plastics and their harmful effects will continue. Keep watching this space for more insights.

(Based on inputs during a verbal interaction between Dia Mirza and Muqbil Ahmar)