Chennai, Jan 19 (BPNS)
As part of its ambitious Meendum Manjapai (return of cloth bag) campaign, the Tamil Nadu government is to develop alternatives for single-use plastics. The state is also planning an extensive campaign among youth and children against the bad effects of plastic and how to get rid of it and instead use alternatives for it.
The state government, according to officials of the Department of Environment is planning to introduce modern school bags made of jute and other alternative materials and to make them popular among children and youth.
The state environment department will rope in self-help groups in all districts to form alternative products to single-use plastics and according to Tamil Nadu principal secretary (Environment), Supriya Sahu there are 14 alternatives for single-use plastic.
While speaking to BPNS, the senior officer said, “ The alternatives for single-use plastics are being made and they have to come in the market in large numbers. Until then people will resort to single-use plastics and we are in the process of creating a campaign among youths and school children against the menace of plastic.”
Supriya Sahu also said that the department has issued orders to conduct surprise checks at commercial establishments to ensure that the ban is effected in toto. However, with no alternatives to single-use plastics in place, people are still using plastic bags and other items.
M. R. Manojkumar, Environmental activist and Chairman, Tamil Nadu state institute for research and studies of environmental protection based out of Kanniyakumari while speaking to BPNS said, “ Of course, the government has banned the use of single-use plastics. But where is the alternative? We have to revert clearly to the Meendum Manjapai campaign as yellow cloth bags were part of our culture and this plastic culture is used and thrown which we are implementing now even to our parents. Let us revert back to cloth bags, jute bags, and other bags that can be reused thus saving the environment and our culture as well.”
Senior officers of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board also agreed that the ban cannot be effective unless alternatives are provided. A senior officer with the TNPCB told BPNS that cloth and jute bags are the main alternatives and large numbers are already being introduced into the market. He said,” Cloth bags and jute bags are the main alternatives at present and large numbers are already in the market. However, this is not enough and there need to be more volumes of these bags in the market so that plastic ban can be effectively implemented thus saving the environment.”