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No more plastic! Bengaluru restaurants and food apps favour sustainable options



Reduce and reuse is the mantra that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has instructed the city’s restaurants and food delivery apps to adopt. Concerns over the excessive waste that is being generated by single-use plastic items has led to this step. The BBMP recently had a meeting with the National Restaurant Association of India members and executives from the food delivery apps to come up with potential solutions.

Reduce dry waste, insists BBMP

Randeep — Special Commissioner (Solid Waste Management), BBMP, who chaired the meeting — says, “We first reinforced how we should strictly avoid what is banned in our previous notification. The notification lists items like plastic bags, cups, straws and cutlery. We asked them to go one step ahead and use fewer water bottles and containers. These are not literally banned in the notification, though on the virtue of them being single-use plastic, we wanted everyone to curtail the use of those.”

BBMP wants everyone to go for reusable cutlery, carriers and packaging, comprising steel and melamine that can be either given back to the vendor or customers can be asked to carry their own utensils and bags. Keeping the three Rs in mind — reduce, reuse and recycle — they are insisting more on the first R, which is to reduce. They want to ensure that dry waste is reduced.
“Executives from food-delivery apps, who were present at the meeting, said that they were investing in research and development on alternatives to plastic. But we told them that reusable items are already available, and we should ensure that we switch over to them,” adds Randeep.

Plastic bags are a big problem

Ravi Kumar Surpur — Special Commissioner (Projects and Public Health) – says, “Since the ban was imposed on certain single-use plastic items in March 2016, there has been around 236 tonnes of plastic bags seized in Bengaluru. We have also enforced a penalty of around Rs 2.75 crore. But, looking at the quantum of plastic that gets consumed, this is not enough. This would be hardly around 1% or 2% of the total consumption that would have happened.”
Ravi further reiterates that there are 11 items that are currently banned by the BBMP —including carry bags, banners, buntings, flexes, flags, plates, cups, spoons, straws, forks, films, dining table mats as well as items made from thermocol and plastic microbeads.

Restaurateurs paint the bigger picture

Amit Roy — from the National Restaurant Association of India — says, “We definitely want to reduce plastic consumption. While it is fair that there is a ban on plastic items, we are also looking for plausible solutions. For straws and stirrers, we have found alternatives, while plastic cutlery and crockery are no longer used. But, how does one replace the cling wrap? Also, what about the items that come wrapped in plastic — be it soda or soft drinks bottles and tissue papers. With regards to the rest, we are definitely supporting it. In fact, many of the restaurants are now using recyclable takeaway containers. We are following the directives and doing what we can do. But, we need more clarity and solutions.”

City outlets go green

Restaurants and hotspots in the city are slowly adopting sustainable and environmentally-friendly initiatives. One of the first to pledge their support was Corner House. In May, the restaurant decided to reduce the use of plastic. Since then, the ice cream chain has used alternatives to plastic and also begun other initiatives. “We have decided to formally adopt the bring-your-own-bowl initiative and for every disposable container saved, we will donate `10 to a worthy cause. We are tying up with different charities, and we will also periodically publish the donations,” the brand stated.

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