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Dapoli Campaign on Ban
Plastic Carry Bags
Dapoli’s example of doing away with plastic carry bags and minimizing the use of plastic items is likely to be replicated by local self-government bodies across the state.

The tourist destination, some 185 km from Pune, in Ratnagiri district, decided to shun plastic two years ago. The model comprised segregation of plastic waste into items for processing and others that cannot be processed. The second stage included replacing plastic carry bags with those that are less than 50 microns thick, with bio-degradable paper bags and recycling of the remaining plastic waste.
Ramdas Kokare
Valsa R Nair Singh, secretary, department of environment, said Dapoli’s initiative is a major success. “I have written to the ministry of environment t and forests requesting it to widely promote the experiment so that other local self-government bodies can replicate it. I have informed all local self-government bodies in the state about the project and asked them to consider the model,” she said.

The model started in August 2010 in Dapoli tehsil and the use of plastic carry bags has been completely stopped. Local businessman Prasad Phatak said, “Civic officials first came up with alternatives and then asked us to stop using plastic bags. The council has also asked retailers and citizens to reduce the use of carry bags.” Service providers were asked to discourage tourists from using plastic material and dispose of the waste in bins provided by the council instead of littering. “We realized how clean we can keep our town,” he added.
When the initiative started, some 10 tonne plastic waste was collected every day. The council invited local non-governmental organizations, activists, businessmen and colleges to spread awareness about plastic and its threat to environment. When 300 students of a local college were asked to conduct a survey, they found that one tonne plastic waste was produced by the town each day.

Ramdas Kokare, chief officer of Dapoli Municipal Council, was instrumental in making the model work. He first observed the source of waste and decided to segregate plastic waste into recyclable and non-recyclable. Plastic carry bags of less than 50 micron thickness were in the non-recyclable category, while bottles, packaging material of food items and wrappers were to be recycled for further usage.

Kokare said, “People were used to plastic carry bags, and we decided to change this habit among the locals. Instead of imposing a ban on plastic bags with less than 50 micron size, I decided to introduce paper bags as an alternative. They decompose easily, do not affect the environment and its production process is eco-friendly. Local self-help groups were roped in to produce paper bags and some awareness campaigns organized in August 2010. Once retail shop owners, cloth merchants and businessmen realized that the plastic ban can be implemented without their business getting affected, they cooperated.”
Once the thin plastic carry bags went out of circulation, bottles, wrappers and packaging material were collected by the civic body. “We have already floated a tender of Rs 2.5 lakh to procure a machine that would crush plastic items and produce plastic granules, which can be used in road construction. The crushed plastic increases the strength and life of the roads,” Kokare said.

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