Paper bags fail to find takers in Nagaland despite its merit
Dimapur, July 12 (EMN): It’s been nearly two years since the government of Nagaland banned single-use plastic items to combat the environmental and ecological challenges posed by rampant use of non-biodegradable items but it has failed to significantly boost the use of paper bags in the state though it’s been dubbed as one of the best alternatives to plastic bags.
Paper Bag Day is observed every year on July 12 to spread awareness about the need to replace plastic bags with containers made of paper but this campaign seemed to have failed to make much progress, at least in Nagaland, after being disrupted by the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Small enterprises and self-help groups (SHGs) were encouraged to venture into paper bag-making market after Nagaland government banned single-use plastic items in 2019. However, such start-ups have been forced to shut down following the return of plastic bags into the market.
CAN Youth chief functionary, Jenpu Rongmei told Eastern Mirror that plastic bags have returned to the market because of poor implementation of the legislation and poor monitoring by the government.
It may be mentioned that CAN Youth had been training SHGs and women on paper bag-making before the state government announced the ban on use of plastic bags. It came a good news for the trainees but it was short-lived.
‘We initially did not start the training and making of paper bags for commercial market but to promote the use of paper bags among the people. We started getting orders during the wedding season but struggled to penetrate into the market. When the government’s order on the ban of plastic bags came into force, the demand of paper bags rose,’ Rongmei said.
Comparatively, he said paper bags may cost a little more but is environment friendly. However, public response was not encouraging as people are not ready to use paper bags, he said, adding that it is difficult to compete with plastic bags in the market as shops are reluctant to do away with plastic bags and so too the public.
Nagaland Papers and Packaging Hub, which deals with paper products and services, shared a similar sentiment on the use of paper bags in the state.
The founder of Nagaland Papers and Packaging Hub, Imliakum Ozukum, said that the demand for paper bags in the state is very low and in demand only during the wedding season.
Ozukum said that they make paper bags, including customised boxes and hardboard boxes for multi utility purposes, only on order basis, reasoning that small businesses can’t take the risk by boosting production without demand. He also lamented that only a few online shopping firms place orders.
People go back to plastic bags as its use can’t be controlled, especially in Dimapur and Kohima markets unless the government comes up with a concrete legislation to ban plastic bags with the involvement of the municipal councils, Ozukum said.