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Nagaland: A look at paper-bags as single-use plastic returns amid Covid-19

By Our Correspondent Updated: Jul 11, 2020 9:57 pm
A ‘plastic bank’ at Old MLA hostel area in Kohima.

Our Correspondent
Kohima, July 11(EMN):
With the imposition of total ban on single-use plastic by the Nagaland government in June 2019, paper-bags have become a common entity and are used much by both the public as well as traders.

Speaking to Eastern Mirror, Imliben Lemtur, the proprietor of Monalisa Business Solutions — a paper-bag manufacturing unit — shared that in the initial years there were some visible changes in the utilisation of single-use plastics as efforts were made to implement the ban, but “with the emergence of Covid-19, all efforts have gone futile as we now see the abundance of single-use plastics everywhere, and there does not seem to be any enforcement activities”.

She opined that with the re-emergence of single-use plastics, it is not likely to be ‘fully eradicated’ in the near future, but hopes that with government initiatives and commitments and mass education of the public about the hazards and ill-effects of plastics on the environment, “we may be able to do away with single-use plastics in a phase-wise manner”.

She reminded that plastics are causing untold and immense damages to humans, animals and the environment in all aspects, while paper bags are reusable, recyclable and biodegradable and do not harm the environment. Paper can be easily recycled up to six or seven times before the fibres become too short to be used for paper productions, and ‘it usually degrades within two to six weeks,’ she said.

She further urged the people to make conscious efforts to reduce their plastic usage so that long-term negative effects of plastics can be reduced. She stated that it takes 10-1000 years to degrade and pollute the environment, deplete the ozone and cause harm to flora and fauna as well as marine life, which ultimately enters the human food chain and causes various diseases.

“Every citizen should be responsible to respect the rules made by the government such as banning single use plastics; also the government must be equally committed to the welfare of its people. One should practice responsible management of wastes such as segregate wastes, reduce wastes generated, proper disposal of wastes,” she said.

Scenario in Kohima

In the state capital, the Kohima Municipal Council (KMC) notified total banning of single-use plastic within its jurisdiction from October 1, 2019.

In a conversation with Eastern Mirror, office secretary of KMC, Zakie Kiso said that after the notice was issued, they conducted several awareness activities and measures to curb single-use plastics, along with administrations, NGOs and panchayats and “the result till date is very promising”. He also acknowledged the business community in particular and the public for their effort.

He stated that KMC is the first municipal body in the state to implement plastic rule in 2013 and also took initiative by banning all plastic carry bags less than 40 microns within its jurisdiction, as plastic products and items have become a menace in every city and town, and is cancerous in nature. They selected some firms to supply 40 microns products with the KMC logo.

Talking about the scenario in Kohima, he shared that to tackle plastic waste management, KMC had incorporated a plastic recycling unit at its landfill at Lerie, under the Asian Development Bank (ADB) project.

“This recycling unit is mainly to curb and segregate plastic materials for recycling purposes as most of the dry waste, which attributes about 50-60% are plastic in nature”, he informed.

Insufficient alternatives

Kiso stated that one challenging aspect faced at the initial stage by the public and traders was the insufficient availability of alternatives to plastic carry bags, as “Kohima lacks an established manufacturing unit for alternative ‘plastic bags’ in the form of bio-degradable products and paper bags etc.”.

But it is encouraging to see that there are about four to five local firms in Kohima now that are registered under KMC for manufacturing paper bags, he informed and expressed hope that more entrepreneurs will come up to cater to the needs of Kohima city and beyond.

He asserted that complete elimination of all sorts of plastic use would be an impossible task since plastic has become ‘part and parcel of our life’ but together “we can eradicate the single-use plastic items in our day-to-day life and make our environment safe and reduce pollutants”.

Paper-bags are reusable, eco-friendly and biodegradable and pose less threat to both humans and wildlife, he added, and encouraged everyone to start using paper or cloth or jute bags for a better tomorrow.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Jul 11, 2020 9:57:58 pm