CHENNAI: With the Union government set to ban single-use plastics across the country from July 1, officials and stakeholders claim that Tamil Nadu has been ahead in enforcing the ban and reducing the usage among people to a large extent.
The Tamil Nadu government in January 2019 ordered the ban of 14 single-use plastic items across the State. Though the enforcement saw a great deal of ups and downs, especially during the pandemic, officials claim the public is aware of not using single-use plastics and its environmental impacts.
Supriya Sahu, additional chief secretary, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department, said, “We welcome the Union government’s nation-wide ban but it’s only on products above certain microns. But Tamil Nadu’s ban is on all single-use plastics irrespective of its micron levels.”
Sahu pointed out that single-use plastic made a comeback during the pandemic due to online delivery, portable facemasks, face shields, PPE kits and so on. “To avoid the risk of infection, disposable cups and plates were widely used during pandemic. And though the ban was in place, it could not be implemented strictly for a couple of years for this reason, she explained.”
Additionally, the launch of Meendum Manjapai (return to cloth bag) campaign was helpful in achieving the ban. “
Since January 2019 till now, the State government has seized 1,768 tons of plastics across TN. During the same period, over 170 plastic manufacturing units have been shut down. In addition to seizing over 15,000 kg of banned single-use plastics from about 8,287 shops in April 2021, the Greater Chennai Corporation has also been holding monthly inspections and seizing plastics.
Said, a GCC official, “The task force officials are holding routine inspections on banned plastics. The pollution control board is ensuring no plastic manufacturing takes place, while the civic body and other departments are actively enforcing the ban.”