Despite ban, use of plastic bags rampant

Kathmandu, October 1

With the start of Dashain festival, the use of banned plastic bags has increased rampantly in the Valley.

Kathmandu denizens have begun shopping for the festivals and shopping areas around the city such as New Road, Bhotahiti, Ason, Durbarmarg, Bhrikutimandap, Bagbazaar, Sundhara, and Jamal have grown abuzz with shoppers and shopkeepers alike. With no effective government monitoring, shopkeepers and consumers are using plastic bags with no qualms.

According to the Nepal Plastic Manufacturers’ Association, although the production of plastics has dropped significantly after the plastic ban was imposed, the use and availability of plastic bags in the Valley have increased rapidly.

Chairman of the association Sharad Sharma told The Himalayan Times, “As people shop more during the festival season, the use of plastic bags have increased greatly. While the majority of plastic industries in the country have closed their operation, the market still has an adequate supply of plastic bags that come from India and China.”

Sharma claimed that the government was working with Indian plastic industries by imposing a ban on plastic production but not checking plastic use, so that the market for Indian plastic bags would increase in the country. Sharma said that plastic bags were not solely responsible for environment pollution.

The government’s ambitious move to impose a nationwide ban on plastic bags has become a complete failure from beginning, although a formal announcement was made to this effect on July this year. Although the government had failed in its bid to ban plastic use in the Valley a year ago, it had again announced a nationwide ban from July 16 this year.

The Department of Environment has conceded to the fact that the ban has not been very effective so far. “We have not been able to aggressively enforce the ban because the department’s resources are limited to the Valley only,” Spokesperson and Technical Undersecretary at the department Mohan Dev Joshi said, adding, “We don’t believe in aggressively enforcing the ban, but we will highly discourage plastic use.”

The Department of Environment, which is responsible for implementing the ban, said people have been ignoring the ban due to a lack of proper monitoring. Other than merely announcing the ban, no move has been taken to ensure its implementation.

Plastic bag manufacturers have been demanding that the government either compensate them or give them another six months to switch to other products. Nepal Plastic Manufacturers’ Association had strongly protested the government’s move to ban plastic bags.