The Kozhikode Corporation may reintroduce the ban on single-use plastics in the city with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and with the civic body’s hygiene protocol in place.
Corporation Health Secretary Shajil Kumar P. said a decision would be taken in the next council meeting, especially in the wake of the new regulations issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the Pollution Control Board.
The State had banned the use of single-use plastics in January 2020. The Kozhikode Corporation had implemented it well and managed to create awareness among traders and the public to a great extent. However, with the outbreak of the pandemic two months later, the efforts turned out to be fruitless.
With health workers fully engaged in fighting COVID-19, there was hardly any follow-up on implementing the ban for the last one-and-a-half years. The number of people getting takeaways from restaurants increased during the period, and, as a result, the use of single-use plastics, such as disposable containers and cups, went up.
“We have found that people are dumping a lot of garbage in the public, especially outside restaurants. So far, restaurants have used the excuse of COVID-19 for using disposable containers. Now it is time we put a leash on it,” said Mr. Kumar, adding that matters would become easier with restaurants reopening for dine-in.
He was, however, all praise for other shops switching to paper bags and paper containers to package most of their stuff. “Textile shops and supermarkets are complying with the ban to a large extent. It is the smaller shops that often default,” he said, adding that the higher price of paper bags and eco-friendly packing material may be one reason for the lapse.
Before COVID-19 struck, the Corporation had launched a full-fledged campaign to eliminate the use of single-use plastics. It had distributed cloth bags in every household through the Kudumbashree Mission and had started a rent shop for reusable utensils.