Whether it is to get our groceries, shop at the mall, or store leftovers in the refrigerator, plastic bags are our trusted companions. They are found everywhere. So much that without them, shopping would come to a standstill. Scientists and environmentalists have long been propogating the environmental dangers of its reckless consumption.
Our government seems to be hearing the message too. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India issued the ‘Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999’ under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Under the Rules,the manufacture, storage, sale and/or use of plastic carry bags having less than 20-micron (20-micron equivalent to 0.2 mm) thickness is banned due to environmental concerns.
Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board has gone a step further and proposed to increase the minimum permissible thickness of plastic bags from 20 microns to 40 microns.
Currently, in Andhra Pradesh the minimum permissible thickness of plastic bags is 20 microns. If the thickness is increased to 40 microns, it will discourage shops and other establishments from using them indiscriminately for packaging groceries and toiletries and encourage them to shift to environment-friendly paper or jute bags.
This will complement the complete ban currently in force on the use of plastic bags for packaging cooked foodstuff. According to the proposal, increasing the thickness of plastic bags from 20 microns to 40 microns
would also act as an incentive for ragpickers to collect the thick plastic carrybags for such material would fetch them more money on account of their thickness.