The plastic ban that has been in the news since its implementation on January 1, is now losing steam in Tamil Nadu. Retailers and vendors across the city have been using plastic secretly, in fear of losing regular customers. Several bars maintained by the state government (TASMAC) are openly allowing plastic.
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“If I don’t give out a plastic cover, customers don’t buy flowers. Who would spend Rs 3 on a cloth bag for wrapping up flowers worth Rs 10 or Rs 15?” asks Vanavani, a flower vendor at Mambalam market.
There is little awareness about the ban in rural parts of Tamil Nadu as well. Rasika Ramesh, an environmentalist and programme catalyst of the Reciprocity Foundation said that the people in small towns and villages are still using plastic generously. “People are using single use plastic for their personal consumption in and around smaller towns and villages near Villupuram, even in the fields. They feel the ban is only for cities. It is this notion that needs to change,” Rasika Ramesh said.
Plastic usage is rampant in the beauty industry. “The industry thrives on single use plastic and polypropylene bags for various uses. Single use wax dispensers and wash clothes are being used in many reputed salons,” said Rasika.
Here are a few pictures captured from the city that shows that we are far, far away from a plastic-free reality. Illegal plastic usage is not only confined to the localities mentioned in the pictures, but is seen widely throughout Chennai.