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Maharashtra plastic ban: Retailers get three months' relief after packaging norms eased but no respite for industries

Within four days of imposing the plastic ban across Maharashtra, the state government-approved committee led by environment minister Ramdas Kadam "enlarged the scope of ban" to allow small retailers to use plastic bags for packaging for the next three months.

The relaxation is only applicable for plastic bags above 50 microns and is on the lines of a similar exception already available for branded products. General stores and grocery stores, which sell loose products like oil, rice, sugar, in retail packaging will benefit from this development.

 Maharashtra plastic ban: Retailers get three months relief after packaging norms eased but no respite for industries

Retailers who sells loose items like pulses will be allowed to use plastic bags above 50 microns, under the relaxed norms of the plastic ban. Reuters

Small traders had submitted a proposal to a state government-appointed committee, promised to work out a mechanism for recycling plastic bags within the next three months.

According to their proposal, the plastic bags issued by them will bear an imprint about the thickness of the bag, and also mention the place of manufacturing.

The store owners will, however, have to collect plastic bags after paying 50 paise per bag to the customer.  The norms on the use of single-use plastic will continue to be the same for the public.

Norms tightened for industrial-level packaging

Meanwhile, industrial manufacturers have been asked to use minimum 20 percent recyclable plastic material and print the manufacturer details and buyback price, among other things on the packaging material (except for export purposes), according to a report in The Indian Express.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government is likely to ban plastic packaging of e-commerce products as well as plastic bottles with a capacity of less than 200 millilitres.

The government is contemplating bringing multilayered packaging and tetra packaging under the ambit of the plastic ban. Under the extended producer's responsibility (EPR), multilayered packaging and tetra packaging firms would be given three months' time to set up a mechanism for collecting and recycling plastic used for packaging, an official told PTI.

The multilayered packaging items are not recyclable and the companies will now have to pay rag pickers to deposit the items at the collection centres because of the new system. "To incentivise rag pickers to collect shampoo sachets and snack packets, we have asked companies to pay rag pickers at least Rs 12-13, and they have agreed to it,” a senior government official was quoted as saying by Economic Times.

Multilayered packaging is used for chips, snacks and biscuits, tetra packaging is used for various beverages. Retail packaging using plastic with a thickness of above 50 microns has also been allowed.  The weight of such plastic bags should be minimum two grams.

As per the government notification, the fine for first-time and second-time offenders will be Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively. A third violation will attract a fine of Rs 25,000 and a jail term of three months.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jul 02, 2018 15:35:30 IST