We welcome the High Court’s directive to the authorities to ban single-use plastic products in coastal areas, hotels, motels and restaurants across the country within a year. The directive also called for the ban on polythene or throwaway plastic bags to be strictly enforced by the government.
Unfortunately, despite the various health and environmental hazards posed by plastic products, and the existing ban on the use of polythene and throwaway plastic bags, we have hardly seen any difference as these products continue to be used widely. And the government must take a large portion of the blame for this, as it has not done enough to discourage the use of plastic products, nor incentivised enough the use of other alternatives. Under these circumstances, it is a seminal verdict from the HC.
At the end of the day, the use of plastic poses a massive long-term threat to the environment. Scientists have been warning governments for decades to cut back on their use, and to find alternatives so that plastic products can be replaced altogether. And numerous governments have responded positively to their calls—but then, why can’t we?
The government has to play a proactive role if the use of plastic is to be eradicated, which is an absolute necessity. It is high time we used substitutes such as jute, which, in fact, simultaneously provides us with the perfect opportunity to revive the development of our jute products.
We have seen good examples being set by certain mega-shops in this regard. And the government should incentivise others to do the same.