Mumbai to ban thin plastic bags to clamp down on illegal makers

14 January 2010 09:42  [Source: ICIS news]

By Priya Jestin

MUMBAI (ICIS news)--Mumbai, India’s financial capital, is expected to impose in the next few weeks a ban on use of thin plastic carry bags as it tries to weed out small illegal players from the domestic polymer market, plastics producers said on Thursday.

Plastic bags that are thinner than 50 microns should not be used in the city to prevent production of those that are just 10-15 microns thick, which were being manufactured by illegal makers, they said.

A national regulation in 1999 had set the thickness of these products at 20 microns, but a lack of strict implementation had led to the rampant production and use of very thin plastic bags, manufacturers said.

“Lower thickness plastic carry bags are made illegally because they are cost effective,” said Arvind bhai Mehta, former president of the All India Plastics Manufacturers Association (AIPMA), but added that members of the association have been producing plastic bags according to the prescribed 50-micron standard.

“The government needs to encourage implementation of the rules,” said Vijay Merchant, a plastics manufacturer, adding that licenses could be offered to illegal plastic manufacturers if they agree to follow the rules, and threaten those who refuse with legal actions.

Plastic manufacturers, however, were calling for a more uniform rule on the thickness of plastic bags across India, for easier implementation. Currently, the prescribed thickness of plastic bags across different central and municipal governments at different states vary, they said.

Up to eight states have the 70-50 micron restriction on thickness of plastic bags in place, while the national 20-micron cap is being implemented in states like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, said T K Bandopadhyay, a senior technical manager at the Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment (ICPE).

“We want the government to implement one common rule to ensure that plastic carry bags below a certain thickness are not available anywhere in the country,” said. Bandopadhyay.

The ban on plastic bags of 10-15 micron thickness in Mumbai should translate to higher production of thicker plastic bags and benefit the legal producers, industry players said.

“Illegal players have dented the market for legal producers, [which] are not even getting a return on their investments because of the proliferation of very thin bags,” said a plastics producer.

“Prices will definitely go up and will help the small producers recover their costs,” he added.

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By: Priya Jestin

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