by Graham Pierrepoint
The effect that mass plastic use and refuse is having upon our planet has never been more devastating – it’s throttling our oceans to the point where, reportedly, there may be more plastic in our water than fish at some point in our lifetime – and thankfully, there have been major strides both on small and national scales in an attempt to really turn back the tide on plastic wastage. Whether it’s supermarkets charging extra for thinner plastic bagging or companies committing themselves to reducing plastic in their packaging by a considerable percentage each year, plenty of people are doing their part – and over in India, plastic usage is frowned upon in some quarters to such an extent that you may face a criminal record if you dare to shop with, or drink from the material.
Mumbai is the latest city in India to crack down on widespread plastic use, with new laws being brought in allowing inspectors to track down and impose laws upon businesses and individuals who continue to use plastic bags, bottles and/or cups. You’ll currently face a fine of up to 25,000 rupees (around $367), starting at 5,000 rupees ($74) if you are caught using any of the prohibited material – and if you continue to persist after several warnings, you could face imprisonment of up to three months. Is this harsh? Perhaps not – as it may well be the deterrent that the Mumbai public needs when it comes to playing their part in the fight to protect our planet.
The ban has in fact been met with mixed responses, with some concerned that inspections may be extorting money from businesses – with others fearful that they may be subject to a particularly heavy fine or even a jail sentence if they are caught with single-use plastics. The hunt may be on, too, to find a viable alternative to plastic in the country which is waterproof – as paper or cloth bagging may not stand up to downpours. India currently uses and disposes of around 11kg of plastic on an annual basis.
It’s the latest in a series of moves around the world to try and take ownership of the plastics crisis – with the UK already moving to ban plastic straws in some quarters and with brands in Australia clamping down on plastic items available to the public – meaning that, hopefully, we may be able to turn the tides on plastic use and waste in the years to come – but the big question at the moment is – is it right to criminalize the use of plastics?