The effect of the near-total ban on single-use plastic in Maharashtra is being felt mostly in retail and unorganised markets, besides adversely impacting app-based food delivery units in Mumbai.
Several companies that deal in home delivery of food through apps and websites are feeling the pinch due to the ban as single-use plastic carry bags are largely used in this emerging sector for home delivery.
Abhishi Tanna, a resident of suburban Andheri, narrated her experience of ordering food for a get-together function at her home through a home delivery portal post the ban.
The food ordered by Tanna was not only delivered one hour later but the cartons used for packing it got wet due to rains during the journey from the food joint to her residence.
She said most of the food items were packed in aluminium foils.
“It was a disaster for me. It was a routine get-together and I ordered some food as usual. I was told on my app that the food would be delivered in half an hour, but I did not receive it in the stipulated time.
“When I called the service provider, I was told that the delivery boy is getting late because of the incessant showers. But being a regular customer, I knew that it was Sunday and most of the roads were empty due to rains. The boy finally reached after an hour, but what I received was shocking. There was only one thick plastic bag he was carrying but water had dripped inside and the packing box was completely wet,” she recalled.
Tanna said though the food packed in the aluminium foil was hot it was stuck to the cartons.
“The boy was helpless as he could not risk himself to heavy fines by carrying a plastic bag. The restaurant from where I ordered my food was not keen on using a plastic bag. There are some types of plastic bags are allowed but they were not sure whether they can use it or not,” she said.
The ban prescribes Rs 5,000 fine for the first-time offenders and Rs 10,000 for the second-time offenders. Those who violate the ban for the third time will face a fine of Rs 25,000, along with a three-month imprisonment.
Roadside vendors are also finding it difficult to cope with the ban.
Ram Prasad Yadav, who sells vegetables in suburban Goregaon, said though the government has allowed usage of thick plastic material the same is not handy.
“It (the thick plastic) becomes very heavy to handle but I have to cover my vegetables and other materials from getting wet. Some days back, some government officials had approached us for sensitising but they only informed us about what not to use. There was hardly any talk about the available alternatives,” Yadav claimed.
The problem of meat and fish traders is more complicated.
Due to the ban, the customers now need to carry his or her own box to take the meat or fish home as it cannot be given in cotton bags.
The demand for fish and meat generally goes up on Sunday.
“We are so used to plastic bags. When we decided to open our shop on Sunday, we had to struggle to find an alternative to plastic,” said a meat vendor from Oshiwara.
He said very few customers brought their own boxes.
“We will have to work out some solution as we cannot let our business get affected. Disposal of fishes is also a huge headache. A lot of fish parts have to be thrown out after cleaning and selling because it is the job of vendors to dispose them. Earlier, we used to throw the remaining parts in plastic bags. However, we will now have to think about another option,” said Rashid Abdul Sattar who owns a meat shop.