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Plastic wastes pile up uncleared on the side of a street in Imphal

As a Ban on Single-Use Plastic Comes into Force, People in Manipur Prepare to Adjust to the New Norm

Everyone lets do a simple exercise. Let’s look carefully around our homes, we will be surprised to find out the total numbers of things containing plastic be it be our appliances, computers, clothing and as wrappers of varieties of products we buy every day. It is also widely used to keep food and cosmetics clean and fresh.
Single-use plastic are objects made of plastic that is intended to be used only once before being disposed off or recycled. The mass use of plastic started in the 1950s and has steadily increases exponentially. They may be easy and convenient but they create long term issues on health and environment.
Today more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually. The amount of plastic produced in a year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity. Humans use about 1.2 million plastic bottles per minute in total. Approximately 91 percent of the plastic is not recycled. Roughly half of our global annual global annual plastic production is destined for a single-use product.
Researchers predict that by the year 2050, there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste in the natural environment. They are a major threat to environment and human health, giving adverse impacts on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Open burning of plastic waste and consumption of plastic-contaminate food are also threat to humans and sometimes many animals succumb to death because of consuming of plastic in their food from the dump places.

Keeping in view of the hazardous effect of plastic, many countries of the World have ban of single use plastic with varying degrees of enforcement. In India so far 32 states and Union Territories have reportedly constituted a dedicated Task Force to eliminate the use of single-use plastics. States such as Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh are pioneer in making their places free from single-use plastic.
Ban on manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single use plastic items came into force from first July, 2022 across the country. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change has said that national and state level control rooms will be up for checking illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sales and use single use plastic for the effective enforcement of the ban.
In Manipur, the State Government has ordered a ban on single use plastic effective from July 1st, 2022. The State Cabinet approved the Manipur Plastic Policy 2022 to combat plastic pollution. Under this policy, the government bans ear-buds with plastic sticks, plastic stick balloons, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene for decoration, plates, cup, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packaging films around sweet boxes, invitation cards and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, stirrers, PET or PETE bottles less than one litre capacity for holding drinking water.
On interacting with some people, they expressed their opinion on banning of single-use plastic as a good initiative of the state government to make our environment from pollution.

A ten years old boy Yashas Leishangthem who loves to become an environmentalist, appeals the citizens of the state to stop throwing garbage including single use plastic items at the public places, rivers and drains etc. He expresses his desire to keep those places clean and to make them learnt a lesson never to repeat again their bad habits. He wants the government and other concerned authorities to keep bins of different colours for different types of waste in the public places, parks, gardens and other tourist spots to make segregation of waste products.
Representatives of Bridge Pharmacy at Dingku Road, Imphal East expressed that the store manages to pack the product in the small paper bags supplied by the company for small items. For big product, they don’t have any alternative yet than carton boxes. This makes some customers show their annoyance at not being provided carry bags. Appreciating the State Government’s order on banning single-use plastic, they said, it is a good and timely step to save our environment from plastic pollution and for a better living on this planet Earth. Single-use plastic items seem to be found discarded at many places which make the place dirty and unhygienic. As there are no alternative arrangements available in the local market it creates a big problem for their business. They appealed the costumers to bring their own bags from home while coming to buy medicines and other products.
Representatives of another medical store, Suken Medical Store at Palace Compound, Imphal East asserted that they make paper bags out of old newspapers with stapler pins of two sizes. They also used some small paper bags supplied by company for carrying the medicines and other small items. But for bulky products, there remains no option as of now. They are planning to provide a carry bag with a minimal charge for carrying all bulky and other items. They termed the government’s initiative as a good approach for a better environment. They also appealed customers to bring their own bags from homes.
An owner of a bakery shop at Sega Road, Imphal narrated that as there is non-availability of alternative packaging material for air tight bakery items it’s a big problem for her business. For packing pastry and others, they use aluminium foils. She made an appeal urging her customers to bring reusable bags or containers while coming to purchase her products. If throwing of waste items in rivers, drains and other public places at late night be controlled properly it will help in combating pollution and will make the Imphal City a smart and clean city.
It is now time for all to develop the habit of purchasing reusable items. Prioritizing reusable products not only helps in keeping a healthy environment, but it can be cost effective also. Education is the only solution to fight the plastic pollution. Businesses that allow consumers to bring their own bags, containers can save from the threatening effects of using single-use plastic. Customers can avoid potentially paying extra money for shopping bags and containers.
Many Shops and business establishment have put cards and stickers at their stalls mentioning customers to bring their own bags and containers with the banning of single-use plastic. Banning single-use plastic and proper disposal of waste in many public places will enhance the beauty of the places which in turn will attract more tourists in the state. After an event or a programme the place or ground where that event happened seems to be in a mess condition throwing all the wastes in and around. This bad habit should be totally eliminated from the dirty mindset. Habits of using dustbin and placing of more numbers of dustbins should be promoted.
The problem of plastic might not be the fault of everyone but every one of us can be a part of the solution. It’s not only the sole responsible of government to ban the single use plastic. It is in the hand of the people to follow the rule of the state and making a single use plastic free-state. Hope the government’s order on banning of plastics will be implemented fully by the concerned authorities.
With only a few days left to complete one month of single use plastics ban in the state, many people still continue their habit of using plastics. Shops, street vendors and other business establishments are still using plastics and customers too asked for it to carry their purchased product. A holistic approach is required for effective implementation of the ban. At the same we need to promote more entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas for replacing plastic with low cost, eco-friendly and easily available local product. This will encourage local innovators and also in the common effort to build a self-reliant Manipur free of plastic pollution. Let us take the pledge to save and protect our planet from plastic pollution by saying ‘No to Plastic For Our Better Future’.

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