INDIA – Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the civic body governing the Indian city of Mumbai, has issued a strict warning against the usage of plastic bags of less than 50 microns thickness to pack food items.
BMC, also known as the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), wants to reduce plastic waste as much as possible in the city. Where they are necessary, the city government says the plastic packaging used should be of better quality and reusable.
“Flimsy plastic bags cannot be reused and make waste management a tedious process. These plastic bags or pouches go into the garbage after one use,” said Rajendra Bhosale, BMC deputy municipal commissioner (special), who is executing the plastic ban in the city.
Hence, any plastic packages of less than 50 microns thickness should not be used to pack food products.
However, the Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHAR) has submitted a request to exclude their businesses from this directive, explaining that although other food items could be packed in paper bags, it will be very difficult to pack liquid-based products such as sambhar, chutneys or sauce if the use of plastic pouches is banned.
One AHAR official commented, “We have been using plastic pouches for years and have never faced any problem. How can they ban something when it’s not disallowed by the rules?”
BMC is determined though, to apply this initiative, and says hotels and restaurants in Mumbai should look for alternative packaging solutions such as plastic containers.
AHAR members have complained against this suggestion, saying it is “economically unwise” to use such containers to pack small quantities of sauce or chutney.
But Bhosale says the civic body will still press on: “We will be requesting AHAR members and appealing to all hoteliers to refrain from using thin plastic bags to pack food items.”
In addition, the BMC has formed a surveillance squad consisting of officials from its solid waste management team and license department to conduct surprise visits and check on the use of “undesirable” plastic bags in the city.