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Plastic Waste, Problem & Solutions, Existing Laws

Banning plastic no solution - Waste management and enforcement of existing laws is

Chandigarh, April 10, 2008 - An interactive workshop on the topic "Plastic Waste - Problem and Solutions" for assessing the real problem and the underlying solutions relating to plastic was conducted by Burning Brain Society and Citizens' Voice. Scientists, Members of resident welfare associations, social workers and geologists participated in the workshop.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Paramjit Singh, professor of Chemical Technology emphasised that plastic and specifically carry bags were not the real problem but lack of proper management of plastics and improper segregation was the root cause of all problems related to plastics. Dr. Paramjit also shared scientific information related to different type of plastics and their indispensability in the modern scientific world. He mentioned that banning carry bags altogether, as proposed by Chandigarh Administration was not a feasible alternative.

Hemant Goswami, a social activist said the solution of problem did not lie in total banning of all carry bags but rather in properly enforcing the existing laws. Laws regulating the trade of carry bag to the extent that only virgin plastic bags with thickness of 30 micron and above and with a minimum size of 8 inch by 12 inch already exist but the government had failed to enforce the said law.

Talking about the legality of the Chandigarh Administrations notification to ban all plastic carry bags, Hemant said that this was not only impractical but also illegal. He mentioned that the Administrator had no power to make such rules, as per the Government of India's notification bearing No. S.O. 667(E) dated the 10th September 1992, the Administrator has been given powers only for carrying out the provisions of Section 5 of the "Environment (Protection) Act, 1986" which is regulated by Rule 4 of the "The Environment (Protection) Rules 1986." The Administrator in any case has no powers, whatsoever, to act under Section 3, 6 or 25 of the "Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Mr. P. C. Sanghi, a retired chief engineer and chairman of "Federation of Sector Welfare Associations" said that the Administration should not put people and residents to inconvenience for its failure to manage waste. He mentioned that the most damaging and non-recyclable plastic was the small Gutka/Tobacco and Pan Masala sachets. The government should regulate that. The garbage pickers have no interest to collect and recycle the small sachets and so it was littered all over the place. Just by making laws problems can not be solved, there has to be scientific rationale and then enforcement of laws. Mr. Sanghi added.

Mr. Kuldip Singh, an industrialist based in Mohali mentioned about the scientific facts relating to plastic waste and showed studies to point out that only 0.4 percent of the total waste was the waste from plastic bags. Most of it he mentioned comes from the plastic used in milk pouches and/or already banned poor quality carry bags. He mentioned that plastic has a high reuse and recycle value which no other material has. Adding to his contention Mr. Vikas Mittal of "Wise Voice of India," an NGO said that banning plastic carry bags was no solution, we have to look at the whole problem with a holistic approach. He mentioned that if today all plastic packaging was to be replaced by paper or other bio-media, the whole forests in the world would be finished in nine years.

Mr. Tarsem Mittal of Raam-Raaj, Ms. Gurpreet Kaur, Mr. Gurinder Singh, Mr. J. S. Sarpal of Residents Welfare Association, Mr. Amit, an environmentalist and Dr. Gaurav also kept their views on the occasion.


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