Efforts to enforce ban on plastic bags to resume

Published On: July 18, 2016 01:10 AM NPT By: Shraddha Amatya

KATHMANDU, JULY 18: The government has yet again vowed to strictly enforce the ban on plastic bags.

Although government officials had stepped up their campaign to curb the use of plastic bags last year, the drive came to an abrupt halt after the earthquake.    

But the authorities have decided to resume the crackdown against sale and distribution of all types of plastic and polypropylene bags across the country.
The government, however, would allow households to use plastic bags for collecting and disposing waste.

“Import, export, sales, distribution and use of plastic and polypropylene bags would be banned to eliminate their negative effects on human health, environment, and urban beauty,” said Ganesh Kumar Shrestha, director general at Department of Environment (DoE).

Alternatives suggested for plastic use are cotton bags, waterproof bags made up of synthetic and natural fabrics, jute and cotton bags, according to him.  
According to many city dwellers and plastic manufacturers, government move to ban plastic bags wasn't practical.

They argue that the government should focus more on managing plastic bags rather than putting a complete ban on them.

Rakesh Kumar Yadav, a resident of Tripureshwar, said, "Plastic itself is not the problem but its management is.

Likewise, Meera Koirala, a resident of Maitighar, said that the complete ban on plastic bags will cause more problems if the government does not introduce feasible alternatives.

On the other hand, environmentalists say that this decision will bring about positive changes to the environment. “Shops and retailers who are selling plastic bags should cooperate with the government's initiative,” said Shilshila Acharya, the CEO of Himalayan Climate Initiative. “We will mobilize youths to spread awareness on this matter.”

Plastic manufacturers have a different opinion. “Plastic bags above 40 micron do not pose problem to health but bad management does,” Santosh Kumar Sedai, general secretary of Nepal Plastic Associations, said. "It is unfortunate that the government often introduces measures without proper discussion with stakeholders on managing the problem."

"Closing down factories altogether is not good for the country's economy," Sedai said. "Plastic manufacturers are ready to cooperate with the government if it brings pragmatic plan on recycling and reusing plastic waste."

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