Ban on plastic bags
A N D W H Y S U C H K I N D O F D R I V E S A R E N O T S U C C E S S F U L I N I N D I A .
• Single-use plastic shopping bags, commonly made
from low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic, have
traditionally been given for free to customers by stores
when purchasing goods: the bags have long been
considered a convenient, cheap, and hygienic way of
transporting items. Problems associated with plastic
bags include use of non-renewable resources (such as
crude oil, gas and coal),difficulties during disposal,
and environmental impacts. Concurrently with the
reduction in lightweight plastic bags, shops have
introduced reusable shopping bags. Governments all
over the world have taken action to ban the sale of
lightweight bags, charge customers for lightweight
bags, or generate taxes from the stores that sell them.
Issues related to
• Plastic bags cause many minor and major ecological and
environmental issues. The most general issue with plastic bags is
the amount of waste produced.
• Even when disposed of properly, they take many years
to decompose and break down, generating large amounts
of garbage over long periods of time. Improperly discarded bags
have polluted waterways, clogged sewers and been found in
oceans, affecting the ecosystem of marine creatures. The UN
estimates that there will be more plastics than fish in the oceans by
2050 unless countries comes up with urgent measures to promote
efficient production, use and waste management of plastics through
out their life cycles.
• Plastic bags can block drains, trap birds and kill livestock.
The World Wide Fund for Nature has estimated that over 100,000
whales, seals, and turtles die every year as a result of eating or
being trapped by plastic bags. In India, an estimated number of 20
cows die per day as a result of ingesting plastic bags and having
their digestive systems clogged by the bags. Plastic bags also
contribute to global warming.
Methods to eliminate
• The two most popular methods of phasing out lightweight plastic bags are
charges and bans. The charge strategy is said to have all of the same results
in plastic bag reduction as a plastic bag ban, with the additional benefit of
creating a new revenue source. The plastic bag charge method also protects
consumer choice, which the ban does not.
• Recycling of plastic bags can be another method of phase-out. However, a
big issue with recycling is that only 5% of plastic bags make it to recycling
facilities, to begin with. Even when bags are brought to these recycling bins
and facilities, they often fly out of these bins or recycling trucks and end up as
litter on the streets. If there are any facilities of avoiding the plastics from
flying out this would be a better method Another issue with recycling is that
different bags are made from different yet aesthetically similar types of
plastics. Bags can be either made of bioplastics or biodegradable plastics,
and if accidentally combined in a compost, the bioplastics could contaminate
the biodegradable composting. These bags can also jam recycling equipment
when mixed with other types of plastic, which can be costly to repair. For
example, costs of repairs rounded out to be about $1 million per year in San
• Individuals can also engage in advocacy with local officials and local
merchants. With the rise in eco-tourism and green travel, there are many
opportunities to say no to plastic.
Impact of ban on plastic bags on
• According to a 2018 study in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, a five-cent tax on disposable bags
reduced disposable bag usage by 40 percentage points . According to a 2019 review of existing studies, levies
and taxes led to a 66% reduction in usage in Denmark, more than 90% in Ireland, between 74 and 90% in South
Africa, Belgium, Hong Kong, Washington D.C., Santa Barbara, the UK and Portugal, and around 50% in Botswana
• A 2019 study in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management found that the implementation of a ban
on plastic carryout bags in California led to a reduction of 40 million pounds of plastic through the elimination of
plastic carryout bags but that Californians purchased 12 million pounds of plastic through trash bag purchases.
The study showed that before the introduction of the ban between 12% and 22% of plastic carryout bags were re-
used as trash bags.
• Plastic bag bans can lead to larger black markets in plastic bags . The production of some non-plastic bags (e.g.
paper, cotton, using virgin plastic such as plastic having thickness of 50 micron) can produce more greenhouse
gas emissions than plastic bags, which means that greenhouse gas emissions may increase on net following plastic
bag bans. Further, the bans can drive significant increases in sales of trash bags
Phase out of lightweight plastic bags around the world (laws passed
but not yet in effect are not shown on map)
Plastic bags banned
A charge on some plastic bags
Voluntary charge agreement
Partial charge or ban (municipal or regional levels)
Around The World:
How Are Countries
The country passed a ‘Plastic Ban’ law in 2016 to fight the
growing problem of plastic pollution in the world which
states all plastic plates, cups, and utensils will be banned by
2020. France is the first country to ban all the daily-usable
products that are made of plastic. The added benefit of this
law is that it also specifies that the replacements of these
items will need to be made from biologically sourced
materials that can be composted. The law also follows a total
ban on plastic shopping bags. The law aims at cutting the
usage of plastic bags in the country by half by 2025.
The country too suffered from plastic pollution like any other developing country, there were
billions of plastic bags choking waterways and destroying entire ecosystems of Rwanda. To fight
this scourge, the government launched a radical policy to ban all non-biodegradable plastic from
the country. This developing country in Africa is plastic bag free since 2008. The country
implemented a complete ban on plastic bags while other countries around the world were just
starting to impose taxes on plastic bags. The ban is not effective just because of strict enforcement
but also because of hefty penalties. According to the law, the offenders smuggling plastic bags can
face jail time.
Known as one of the world’s best recycling nations, Sweden is following the policy of ‘No Plastic Ban,
Instead More Plastic Recycling.’ There is one simple reason behind this – Sweden has world’s best recycling
system. Mostly all the trash in Sweden’s system gets burned in incinerators. The system is so strong and in
place that less than one percent of Sweden’s household waste goes into the landfill dump. Recently, they
also run out of trash. Now they are actually asking other countries for their garbage so that it can keep its
recycling plants running.
Ireland is the perfect example that shows how one can get rid of the ubiquitous symbol of urban
life – Plastics. The country passed a plastic bag tax in 2002 – that means that consumers would
have to actually purchase bags. It was so high that within weeks of its implementation there was a
reduction of 94 percent in plastic bag use. And, now plastic bags are widely unacceptable there.
The country instated a law in 2008 to deal with its growing plastic woes. China made it illegal for stores
(small or big vendors) to give out plastic bags for free. It also said that owners should start charging the
consumers for the plastic bags and allowed them to keep any profit they made for themselves. End result ,
after two years of the law implementation, usage of plastic bags dropped by a whopping 50%. That means
around 100 billion plastic bags were kept out of the landfills.
Status of ban on plastic bags in
• In 2002, India banned the production of plastic bags below 20 µm in thickness to prevent plastic bags from clogging of the
municipal drainage systems and to prevent the cows of India ingesting plastic bags as they confuse it for food. However,
enforcement remains a problem.
• The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has also passed regulation to ban all polythene bags less than 50 micr ons
on 18 March 2016. Due to poor implementation of this regulation, regional authorities (states and municipal corporations), have
had to implement their own regulation.
• In 2016, Sikkim, India's first fully organic state, banned the use of not only packaged drinking water bottles in any government
meetings or functions but also food containers made from polystyrene foam all over the state.
• Himachal Pradesh was the first state to ban plastic bags less than 30 µm. The Karnataka state became first state to ban all forms of
plastic carry bags, plastic banners, plastic buntings, flex, plastic flags, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, cli ng films and
plastic sheets for spreading on dining tables irrespective of thickness including the above items made of thermacol and plastic
which uses plastic micro beads. The state of Goa has banned bags up to 40 µm thick, while the city of Mumbai bans bags below a
minimum thickness to 50 µm.
• The state Government of Maharashtra banned plastic starting 23 June 2018. The state Government of Tamil Nadu also banned
plastic starting 1 January 2019.
Why the drive is not
successful in India?
• Currently in India, there is only one law that is in place – No manufacturer or vendor can use a
plastic bag which is below 50 microns as thinner bags pose a major threat to the environment
due to its non-disposability. The usage of plastic bags is still high as the ban is not
implemented on all plastic bags.
• One of the biggest obstacles to the implementation of plastic bans on the ground, say activists,
is the lack of political will. “Every few years, particularly before elections, politicians play to
the gallery with such announcements about banning plastic bags,” said Rishi Aggarwal, an
environmental activist from the Mumbai-based think tank, Observer Research Foundation. “But
they are not interested in implementation. In 2015, the Union government had proposed that
5%-10% of such non-recyclable plastic should be collected and used in the process of building
roads. “This, too, is something that most state governments have not bothered to implement.”
• Environmental activist Clinton Vaz believes the implementation of plastic bans in other parts of
the country has also been difficult because of the structure of imposing fines. “In states where
all plastic bags are banned, the structure authorises very few officials to fine violators, which
makes enforcement difficult. “So far plastic bans have not worked in India because the user was
never penalized ,” said Stalin.
• Many big brands and vendors have started charging the customers for the polybags in order to
commercially discourage them, but it is so far not been effective as there is no law or guidelines
that says shopkeepers should charge money from the customers for the polybags.
• The need of the hour in India is strict laws and its enforcement.