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  • International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 - 6510(Online), Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME 28 ERADICATION OF PLASTIC CARRY BAGS – PERCEPTION OF THE PUBLIC Dr. P.S.Valarmathy Professor, Galaxy Institute of Management, Chennai. ABSTRACT The public who are responsible for littering the landscape with plastic carry bags could be grouped into three clusters based on their behaviour as to the mode of disposal of plastic carry bags, their willingness to carry own bags, awareness level on the hazards of littering and their perception on the measures to eradicate the use of plastic carry bags as – environment cautious public, cost conscious public and irresponsible public With suitable strategies, the hazards caused by plastic carry bags could be eradicated. Keywords: Environmental Hazards, Littering the Landscape, Disposal of Plastic Carry Bags. INTRODUCTION Plastic carry bags were introduced in early 1950. Initial days the plastic carry bags were thick with handles fixed to it. During 1960, Swedish Engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin developed the modern plastic carry bags which are light weight and made of single piece with high load carrying capacity. From then onwards plastic carry bags are used as a primary packaging material. It is widely used to pack all varieties of food stuffs. It is also used as secondary packing material by retailers to enable its customers to carry daily groceries and other food items from shops to vehicles and their homes. Apart from being light with high load carrying capacity, they are claimed to be non toxic and resist chemical reaction. Also, they are transparent and water proof. These attributes of plastic carry bags make it very popular that people shun the habit of carrying their own bags while shopping. Though plastic carry bags are claimed to be cheap and hygienic by the users i.e manufacturers of plastic carry bags, retailers and public making use of it in daily routine, the real cost of using plastic carry bags on the environment is very high in terms of loss of bio diversity, littering of the landscape, filling the air with toxic fumes, strangling marine animals and disturbing the purity of water bodies. All these costs are borne by the society not by the producers or users. As claimed it is neither economic nor eco friendly. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT (IJM) ISSN 0976-6502 (Print) ISSN 0976-6510 (Online) Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME: www.iaeme.com/ijm.asp Journal Impact Factor (2014): 7.2230 (Calculated by GISI) www.jifactor.com IJM © I A E M E
  • International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 - 6510(Online), Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME 29 There has been growing awareness among the world community of the ill effects of using plastic carry bags and efforts taken to protect the environment. Use of plastic carry bags have been totally banned in parts of America, UK, France, BanglaDesh, Bhutan and China. Instead of banning plastics, to reduce the usage, a levy has been imposed in many parts of the world like New Zealand, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Australia. In HongKong the first Tuesday of each month is celebrated as NO Plastic bags Day. In certain countries like India and Taiwan, as per government rules customers are charged by retailers like super markets, restaurants for plastic carry bags. Lot of measures have been undertaken throughout the world in bits and pieces to reduce the hazards of plastic carry bags. Research studies undertaken on the impact of plastic carry bags invariably suggests to educate public on the ill effects of plastic carry bags and insist on using eco friendly alternatives. As rightly pointed out by these studies, littering of the carry bags by the public is the root cause of the problem and hence a research study was undertaken to study the use of plastic carry bags by public, their awareness and perception on the measures to eradicate the use of plastic carry bags. OBJECTIVES • To group the public into clusters on the basis of their usage, awareness and perception regarding eradication of plastic carry bags and to suggest measures for effective banning of plastic carry bags. METHODOLOGY The present study is an empirical research focussing on the current state of affairs on usage of plastic carry bags by the public and their perception on the eradication of the same. Primary data is collected with the help of structured interview schedule from 2250 sample selected on the basis of convenient sampling method from the inmates of Chennai. After editing 2215 questionnaires are analysed with the help of SPSS package. K means clustering is used to group the public. Data Analysis Analysis of the data with the help of percentages and weighted average method revealed that 100% of the sample uses plastic carry bags. Plastic carry bags reach the hands of the public through super markets followed by vegetable and fruit vendors. Buying plastic carry bags is least sought after by the public. Modes of disposal of Plastic carry bags After using the carry bags supplied freely by the super markets or vegetable vendors it is disposed by just throwing on the road or at the garbage corners in the street. Some are hygienic that they put it in the dust bin and hand it over to the garbage collection employees. Few who are cautious about the environment, segregate waste at home, use separate dust bin for plastic waste and properly hand over it to corporation employees on Wednesday. Data analysis reveals that only 12% of the public are responsible citizens and 88% of the public are responsible for littering the plastic carry bags. Carrying own bags The free distribution of plastic carry bags by super markets, vegetable & fruits vendor, grocery stores and bakery for more than two decades has almost eliminated the habit of carrying own bags for shopping. Though 79.5% of the respondents have carried their own bags, only 19.5% carries regularly and the rest carries occasionally. Of those who are carrying their own bags while going for
  • International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 - 6510(Online), Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME 30 shopping only 17% are comfortable in carrying own bag. 42% of the respondents forget to carry own bags while 28% of the public feels it is a burden on hand. Awareness on the hazards of Littering Plastic Carry bags Awareness about the hazards of plastic carry bags is very high among the public. 94.58% of the public is aware that plastic carry bags blocks sewage, 92.64% knows that it reduces rain water percolation, 91.5% are aware that it reduces soil fertility, 90.79% that it affects the mortality of animals and awareness is only 89.9% with regard to burning of plastic carry bags causing cancer. Measures to contain the hazards of Plastic carry bags Four types of measures could be taken to eradicate the use of plastic carry bags. Creating awareness of the hazards of plastic carry bags, encouraging public to bring their own bags and reuse the plastic carry bags will reduce the consumption of plastic carry bags. Effective waste management through collection of plastic carry bags by local bodies, segregation of waste at home itself as bio degradable and non bio degradable and setting up recycling plant by govt, local authorities will help in recycling the plastic waste and thus contribute to the reduction of environmental hazards. Charging the customer at shops for plastic carry bags that it becomes costly for customer, levying the traders using plastic carry bags for packaging and heavily taxing the plastic carry bag manufacturers – all the above measures will make the plastic carry bags costlier and discourage free distribution of the same. The measures to be taken under each head are given in Table No.1. The perceptions of the public on these measures are assessed with the help of likerts 5 point scale and analysed using weighted average. Table No.1 Perception on the Measures to eradicate the use of Plastic Carry Bags Measure Mean SD REDUCE Create Awareness 4.48 .67 Carrying Own Bags by Public 4.33 .69 Reuse Plastic Carry Bags 3.91 1.09 RECYCLE Collection of Plastic Carry Bags by Local Bodies 4.09 .89 Segregation of Waste at home 4.08 .85 Setting up Recycling Plant 4.19 .87 LEVY Levy the Traders 4.18 .90 Tax Plastic Carry bag Manufacturers 4.37 .85 BAN Ban the use of Plastic carry bags 4.65 .72 Source: Primary data
  • International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 - 6510(Online), Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME 31 Perception of the public on the four type of measure – reduce, recycle, levy and ban is given in Table No.2. Table No.2 Mean SD Reduce the use of plastic carry bags 4.24 1.72 Recycle the plastic carry bags 4.12 1.92 Levy 4.19 2.14 Ban the use of plastic carry bags 4.65 .72 Overall opinion about reduce the environmental hazards 4.23 4.46 Source: Primary data Banning the use of plastic carry bags stands first with highest mean score. Due to awareness of the health hazards of re using plastic carry bags, reuse has the least mean score followed by charging customers by retailers. This makes crystal clear that though people are still using plastic carry bags inspite of awareness, once strict measures are taken by the government to ban the use of plastic carry bags, it would be welcome by the public. Clustering of the Public Public who are mainly responsible for littering of plastic carry bags are clustered into three groups on the basis of five variables / attributes using K means Clustering– 1. Mode of disposal of plastic carry bags – o Just throw away the plastic carry bags on the Road o Dispose the plastic carry bags at the garbage corners on the road o Put it in the dust bin and dispose it properly to the garbage collection employees o Use separate dust bin for plastic carry bags and handover the waste to Corporation employees on Wednesday 2. Carry their own bag while going for shopping to buy grocery, vegetables, fruits & bakery products 3. Degree of comfort in carrying own bag to the shop 4. Awareness on the hazards of littering Plastic carry bags o Blocks sewage lines & leads to outburst of epidemics o Reduce rain water percolation o Deteriorates soil fertility o Mortality of cows, goats, & marine animals o Burning of Plastic carry bags causes cancer 5. Perception on the measures to eradicate the plastic carry bags
  • International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 - 6510(Online), Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME 32 The final cluster centres given below gives the mean value of each variable for each of the three clusters. Table No.3 Final cluster centres Variable Cluster 1 2 3 Just throw away the plastic carry bags on the Road 0 0 0 Dispose the plastic carry bags at the garbage corners on the road 1 1 1 Put it in the dust bin and dispose it properly to the garbage collection employees 1 1 0 Use separate dust bin for plastic carry bags and handover the waste to Corporation employees on wednesday 0 0 0 Frequency of Carrying own bag while going for shopping 2 1 2 Rate the comfortablity in carrying own bag to the shop 4 3 4 Difficulty faced in carrying own bag 2 2 2 Make use of free plastic bags given by shops to manage carry bags requirement 1 1 1 Pay for plastic bags to manage carry bags requirement 1 1 1 Avoid going to shops charging for carry bags 0 0 0 Awareness on littering of plastic carry bags blocks sewage lines & leads to outburst of epidemics 1 1 1 Awareness on littering of plastic carry bags reduce rain water percolation 1 1 1 Awareness on littering of plastic carry bags deteriorates soil fertility 1 1 1 Awareness on littering of plastic carry bags affects the mortality of cows, goats, & marine animals 1 1 1 Burning of Plastic carry bags causes cancer 1 1 1 Reduce the use of plastic carry bags by Creating awareness 5 4 5 Encourage public to bring their own bags 4 4 4 Reuse the plastic carry bags 3 4 4 Effective waste management through collection of plastic carry bags by Local Bodies 3 4 4 Segregation of waste at home itself as bio degradable and non bio degradable 4 4 4 Setting up recycling plant by govt, local authorities 4 4 5 Charging the customer at shops for plastic carry bags that it becomes costly for customer 4 3 4 Levy the traders using plastic carry bags for packaging 4 3 5 Heavily tax the plastic carry bag manufacturers 4 3 5 Ban the use of plastic carry bags 5 4 5 Source: Primary Data
  • International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 - 6510(Online), Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME 33 Table No.4 Distance between Final Cluster Centres Cluster 1 2 3 1 2.417 2.776 2 2.417 2.728 3 2.776 2.728 A brief description of the clusters is given below: Cluster 1: (Fairly Environment Cautious Public) This group of people either dispose the plastic carry bags at the garbage corners on the road or put it in the dust bin and dispose it properly to the garbage collection employee They do not maintain separate dust bin for plastic carry bags and hand over the waste to corporation employees on Wednesday or throw away the carry bags on the road. This reveals that they are neither reckless in disposing the waste nor very cautious of the environment. They do not carry own bags regularly while going for shopping and feel uncomfortable and often forget to carry their own shops. They visit shops charging customers for plastic carry bags and are willing to pay for the same. If free bags are given they are ready to use the same. They are fully aware of the hazards of plastic carry bags and strongly agree that plastic carry bags usage to be reduced through creating awareness and also strongly favours ban on plastic carry bags. They do not want to re use plastic carry bags and are not confident of the local bodies for collection of plastic carry bags. They are not only aware of the hazards but also alert to the hazards when their personal health is concerned. With regard to the measures to be taken to eradicate the usage of plastic carry bags, they favour charging customers, levying the traders as well as taxing the manufacturers to make the carry bags costlier. They are ready to segregate waste at home and favour setting up of recycling plant by govt. and local authorities. They could be referred as fairly cautious group of public. Cluster 2: (Cost Conscious Public) They are cost conscious public who neither throw the plastic carry bags on the road or do segregation of plastic waste at home for proper disposal of the same. They dispose the plastic carry bags at the garbage corners on the road or put it in the dust bin along with other waste and dispose it properly to the garbage collection employee. They always carry own bags while shopping and are indifferent (neither comfortable nor uncomfortable) to carry own bags though they forget to carry own bags at times. Like cautious public they visit shops charging customers for plastic carry bags when there is a need and are willing to pay for the same. If free bags are given they are ready to use the same also. They are aware of all hazards but are not alert like cautious public. They agree for all measures proposed for reducing the hazards except charging the customers, levying the traders and taxing the manufacturers. All three measures aim at inflating the price of carry bags. Hence they could be rightly referred as cost conscious public. Cluster 3: (Irresponsible Public) Though they do not throw away the plastic carry bags on the road, they do not put it in dust bin. They just throw it on the garbage corners. They don’t maintain separate dust bins for plastic carry bags. They rarely carry their own carry bags for shopping and feel uncomfortable to carry own bags and often forget also. To manage carry bags requirement, they make use of free carry bags given by the retailers and also ready to pay for it if shops are charging. They don’t avoid going to shops charging for plastic carry bags.
  • International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 - 6510(Online), Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME 34 They are fully aware of the hazards of plastic carry bag and agree for all measures to be taken to reduce the environmental hazards of plastic carry bags. Hence though the people belonging to this cluster are irresponsible, once strict implementation of the measures are carried out, they will abide by the same. The details of the respondents falling under each cluster are given below: Table No.5 Cluster No. of Respondents Percentage Fairly Environment Cautious Public 502 23 Cost Cautious Public 464 21 Irresponsible Public 1249 56 Total 2215 100 Source: Primary Data Only 23% of the public are cautious about the environment (though not fully to some extent) that they do not throw the plastic carry bags on the road. But they throw it at the garbage corners. Hence could not be called as fully cautious about the environment. The second cluster i.e. 21% cost cautious public behave like environment cautious public when it comes to disposal of the waste but do not agree for any measures which result in increasing the cost of the plastic carry bags. Balance 56% is irresponsible that they do not care for the environment. They hold the major responsibility for littering of plastic carry bags though the first two clusters are also responsible to some extent. The cost cautious public are willing to carry their own bags for shopping whereas the other two clusters feel uncomfortable and often forget to carry own bags. Thus almost all are responsible in a way for the hazards caused due to littering of plastic carry bags. But awareness on the hazards is high among all clusters and everyone agrees for banning of the plastic carry bags. CONCLUSION It is very clear from the above discussion that in spite of the differences and disagreements between clusters entire public is aware of the hazards of plastic carry bags and all favours banning of the plastic carry bags. Hence banning of plastic carry bags and strict adherence of the same will fetch fruitful results. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT (Paper published based on the project sanctioned by AICTE under Research Promotion Scheme (RPS) 8023/BOR/RID/RPS – 158). REFERENCES 1. Plastic Shopping Bag, Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Plastic shopping bag on 28 June 2012. 2. Phasing out single use plastic bags, retrieved from http://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/ 2010/09/phasing-out-single-use-plastic-bags/ viewed on 22nd Sep. 2012 . 3. Rajat R. (2011) Eradicating plastics not so easy, accessed on May 26, 2011, http://www.mangalorean.net/browsearticles.php?arttype=Feature&articleid=1781. 26.5.11.
  • International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 - 6510(Online), Volume 5, Issue 3, March (2014), pp. 28-35 © IAEME 35 4. Remigios V.Mangizvo (2012), The incidence of plastic waste in Alice, South Africa, accessed on http://www.onlineresearchjournals.org /JSS/ pdf/ 2012/ apr/ Mangizvo.pdf 5. VelappaGoundar Ramaswamy and Hardeep Rai Sharma, Plastic Bags – Threat to environment and cattle health:A retrospective study from Gondar city of Ethiopia, accessed on http://www.iioab.org/SPI-1(EBT)/Ramaswamy-IIOABJ-2%20(1)-(SP1)-7-12p.pdf 6. Legesse Adane and Diriba Muleta, Survey on the usage of plastic bags, their disposal and adverse impacts on environment: A case study in jimma city, south western Ethiopia, accessed on http://www.academic journals. org/ jtehs/ PDF/ Pdf2011/ August/ Adane %20 and %20Muleta.pdf 7. Jennifer Clapp and Linda Swanston, Doing away with plastic shopping bags: International patterns of norm emergence and policy interpretation, accessed on http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09644010902823717 8. Plastic waste: will the new rules clear up the clogged mess? Accessed on October 29, 2012, http://Cseindia.org. 9. Cátia M.L. Machado, Dr. Liane Mahlmann Kipper and Dr. Rejane Frozza, “A Proposal for a Computational Tool with the Lean Approach to Support Minimization of Waste Production Process”, International Journal of Management (IJM), Volume 4, Issue 5, 2013, pp. 78 - 91, ISSN Print: 0976-6502, ISSN Online: 0976-6510.