On a humid and hot Saturday afternoon Kishore Sharma is sat outside of his store on a commercial street in Delhi and has nothing to do. He sells plastic plates, spoons as well as other products but sales haven’t been very good. Business kaafi thapp hai (business is extremely low). The people have cut down on plastic knives and spoons, the man says in desperation.
It’s been over a month since the notice banning single-use plastic products went into force, and sellers like Kishore are having a hard in finding buyers.
Kishore says that customers come to his store to purchase things made of plastic only when they’re celebrating birthdays of their children. In other cases, market is not as crowded Kishore complains. The other issue he has is the massive quantity of inventory that remains with him. The removal of all this inventory could result in a massive expense for the company.
Drop in demand
On July 1st on the 1st of July, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change issued an announcement that banned the production or importation and selling of 19 plastic products such as straws, spoons and forks. This resulted in a corresponding decline in demand from consumers.
Kishore’s story is sad However, vendors are looking for ways to deal with the challenges.
Ratan the owner of an mobile repair and accessories shop in that same road, claims that he’s replaced the plastic screen guards with glass ones.
Mangu Metha, another seller of plastic goods, appears unaffected. He claims that in spite of the warning it’s not feasible to completely eliminate plastic all at once from the market. It is not as simple to make an announcement the next day, and then we begin taking it up from one day later, He says in a sly manner.After all this is India He veers off.
Ranmal Raj who sells food on the street has switched to polythene bags using cloth bags. However, this costs. Before, he bought about 100 bags of polythene for around about Rs 140, but now He buys a bag made of bags in cloth (consisting of 28 bags) at a price of Rs 180. Even though the cost has increased to him, he claims, Bhot baar log khud hi kapde bags le ane hai(people carry their cloth bags a lot).
A shift in the mindset of consumers
People are becoming more aware of the harmful effects of plastics and are trying to make more sustainable choices. Separation of waste at its source, and carrying one’s own bags when shopping are a few of the ways that could help in the long term. But , consumers must change their lifestyles to a more sustainable one to ensure that the plastic ban will be effective.
Niranjan Khatri, Founder of iSambhav an environmental training organization, explains that it was common usage among people carrying bags made of cloth for shopping during the 1970s and the 1980s. These habits must be revived, says.
The impact of the ban
Making sense of the changes that result from the ban on plastics isn’t straightforward.
Alternative packaging comes with its own set of difficulties in terms cost, according to Vikas Kumar, founder, Go Grocer, a D2C grocery retailer. Alternative packaging costs are extremely expensive. It could increase by 15 percent. Additionally, if you substitute straws made of plastic with straws made of paper and you want to cut down trees.
MSMEs from a variety of sectors are not happy about the ban. According to the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association has said that up to 88,000 plastic manufacturing units may go under due to the ban. The impact on the economy will be adversely, considering that the MSME sector is responsible for 30% of India’s GDP, and is the second largest employer in India.
But, Vikas says imposing such limitations is necessary and is essential to find ways to tackle the menace of plastic.
Niranjan who is the founder of iSambhav recalls the events of the nineties, when more than one million MSMEs were shut down in Delhi due to they didn’t follow the most efficient industrial practicesand taking environmental dangers into account. While it created some inconvenience, it actually made a difference to the quality of the air. The plastic ban, too, can cause immediate discomfort but will prove beneficial over the long term the expert says.
Although the ban on plastic has impacted some firms, it has opened up potential business opportunities and new ideas.
Demand for wood and bamboo has risen dramatically from companies who are trying to transition to sustainable alternatives. According to the Justdial local search engine, the search results for bamboo and wood dealers increased at 22% within the top tier cities and 29% for cities of tier 2 in the past month.
A number of companies are currently creating products that could substitute single-use plastic.
The Bengaluru-based Sunbird Strawsmakes straws made from naturally dried and fallen coconut leaves. The Chennai-based chocolatier Cocoatrait utilizes paper made of recycled, upcycled cotton and cocoa husk to make their packaging’s outer layers. There is no plastic to make the package, claims Cocoatrait’s founder, L. Nitin Chordia.
Niranjan believes that when strict steps are followed, companies particularly the largest and more creative ones will develop solutions to bridge the gap and meet the requirements of the consumers. He provides an instance of using agro residues to make plates and cups.
The path to sustainability appears long and strenuous, and is laden with numerous obstacles on the way.
In the words of Chordia that in the long run plastic has to be eliminated from all supply chains and not only at the final product stage. But, he adds that removing plastic completely from the supply chain will be a daunting undertaking, considering that it is inexpensive and simple to find and transport.