Tamil Nadu brings back cloth bags to renew fight against single-use plastic

The ‘yellow bag’ campaign, to be inaugurated by chief minister M K Stalin, is aimed at encouraging people to use cloth bags instead of plastic

In January 2019, the Tamil Nadu government banned 14 types of plastic items including single-use plastic bags and polythene covers. But the plan has remained on paper and use of plastic bags continues in almost all districts, except the Niligirs. Pic: PTI

Increasing menace of single-use plastic has prompted the Tamil Nadu government to launch the ‘yellow bag’ campaign, which aims to bring back cloth bags in use. The move comes even as leaders from over 100 nations are set to meet in Glasgow to discuss ways to curb harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The state forest department has taken steps to strictly implement plastic ban and create awareness among all stakeholders.

The ‘yellow bag’ campaign, to be inaugurated by chief minister M K Stalin, is aimed at encouraging people to use cloth bags instead of plastic.

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“The chief minister is interested in implementing the ban on 14 types of plastics. The government has also allocated Rs 10 crore towards the scheme. Local bodies are being instructed to develop appropriate strategies,” said a senior forest department official.

In January 2019, the Tamil Nadu government banned 14 types of plastic items including single-use plastic bags and polythene covers. But the plan has remained on paper and use of plastic bags continues in almost all districts, except the Niligirs.

“We have started visiting areas where such plastic items are used in large numbers and speak to locals about its adverse impact on environment,” said the official.

The department has issued orders to all district administration officers to enforce strict measures for the use of polythene covers.

“We visited Asia’s largest vegetable and fruit market, located at Koyambedu, near Chennai. The traders were enlightened about the ills of single-use plastic and told them that cloth and paper bags can prove a good alternative. The response was great and traders agreed not to use plastics in their businesses,” said the official.

Also read: Flipkart goes eco-friendly, ditches single-use plastic in packaging

Similarly, municipal officials are visiting main markets in districts and taluks to create awareness about the subject.

“Our officials met the manufactures of such plastic items and also the traders. They all agreed that they will modify their business model and not sell banned plastic. They, however, said the state government must take steps to prevent entry of such products from nearby states,” said the official.

The forest department is also taking help from NGOs to create awareness among the public to go back to the yellow bag. “In T Nagar, big stores used to show sarees or shirts by opening a box but now they take out clothes from a plastic bag. With the help of NGOs, we have started creating awareness in such stores and warn them of strict action in case they violate norms,” said the official.

The environmental problems caused due to accumulation of plastic in our water and land will come up for debate during the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), to be held in Glasgow (UK), from October 31 to November 12.

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