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Retail packing exempted from plastic ban

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MUMBAI: In a decision that waters down the statewide plastic ban imposed on Saturday, the state government has exempted retail packaging from its ambit. On Wednesday, it also instructed that no penalty be imposed on garbage bin liners and takeaway containers used by restaurants for now, as the issue is under consideration, said a senior official present at the meeting. Bulk consumers such as malls, multiplexes and marriage halls will be asked to set up collection centres so that the plastic waste generated on their premises can be sent for recycling.

“We have asked corporations to go after only three categories of things for now – plastic bags, one-time use plastic cutlery and thermocol decorations and cutlery. Everything else needs to be examined again and till a decision is not taken, no action should be taken,” said the official.

An empowered committee took the decision on Wednesday to exempt retail plastic packaging of not less than 250gm from the ban and a notification on the exemption will be issued on Thursday, said environment minister Ramdas Kadam. “We discussed this with the CM in the cabinet meeting on Thursday, but the exemption is being made with a few riders,” said Kadam.

Retailers will have to set up a buyback mechanism in the next three months to ensure that the plastic returns to them.

No plastic for loose milk, people need to carry vessels to shops

“If they do not fall in line, we can, at any time, bring them back under the ban,” said Kadam and added that the ban has been lifted for only packing foodstuff due to few other options. Loose milk sellers will not benefit from this exemption though, as “people can use vessels to carry it”.

 TOI had reported that an expert committee comprising five senior bureaucrats had told the empowered panel, formed to take a decision on the exemption, of the difficulty in enforcing the plastic packaging ban in neighbourhood kirana stores that use plastic to sell items such as dal, rice and sugar.

Officials also said to avoid confusion, the environment department is coming out with a pictoral list of what is exempted and what is not. It will also start massive awareness campaigns on the ban.

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