Govt to completely ban plastic bags

Kathmandu, July 6

From the beginning of the new fiscal year beginning July 16, the government is all set to impose a ban on the use, sale and distribution of all types of plastic bags throughout the country.

The government’s earlier ban on plastic bags in the Kathmandu Valley was a complete failure. Although no preparation has been made in this regard, the government decided to impose a nationwide ban on plastic bags through the budget for fiscal year 2016-017.

“To eliminate the negative effects of plastic and polypropylene bags on human health, environment, and urban beauty; import, export, sales, distribution and consumption of plastic and polypropylene bags would be banned.

Plastic bag manufacturers would be encouraged to switch to other environment-friendly products. Manufacturers who give up plastic products and start another enterprise will have to pay only 1 per cent customs duty,” read the budget.

“The Department of Environment will impose a nationwide ban on plastic bags from July 16,” Ganesh Kumar Shrestha, director general at the department told The Himalayan Times.

He added that the department would organise a week-long awareness campaign before intensifying monitoring activities to strictly enforce the ban. The department is holding consultations with stakeholders in this regard.

According to Section 18 of the Environment Protection Act 1997, if a person or organisation commits any act contrary to the act or rules framed under the act, they may be punished with a fine up to Rs 50,000.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs have said that they would lose billions of rupees if the government imposed ban on plastic bags without offering them an alternative. They have demanded that the government either compensate them or give them six months to switch to other products by fixing guidelines and classifying plastic bags on the basis of microns.

Chairman of Nepal Plastic Manufacturers Association Sharad Sharma said, “If the government imposes the ban forcefully, it should provide compensation to all 200 plastic bag manufacturers and 10,000 employees dependent on the industry.”

The association also accused the government of being motivated by NGOs. “Instead of managing the plastic bag industry, the government has chosen to ban plastic bags. Such a move has proven unsuccessful in many countries,” said Sharma.