Delhi Gets Serious About Banning Plastic Bags

Delhi, India’s second biggest city – with 17 million people – is taking its 2009 plastic bag ban even farther, joining a growing list of cities adopting strict measures to discourage their use.

Starting in mid-September, a new zero-tolerance ordinance prohibits the manufacture, import, storage, use or sale of disposable  plastic sheets or bags within city limits – including shopping and garbage bags, magazine and greeting card coverings, and plastic film. It exempts only plastic bags used for medical purposes. 

The ban was passed in 2009 but has been largely ignored. Now it falls under India’s Environmental Protection Act and violators could face a prison term of up to five years and a fine of $1,800, or both.

Delhi’s sewers are often clogged by plastic bags littering its streets, causing widespread sanitation issues. Wild animals often die after eating them – including the country’s sacred  cows.

"This blanket ban is justified on the ground that not only does plastic have an adverse impact on environment and ecology but also causes blockage of gutters, sewerage system and drains," says the policy document.

In the US, Los Angeles is the largest US city to ban plastic bags and shoppers will be charged 10 cents per paper bag in supermarkets. Seattle has announced a similar ban.

California attempted a statewide ban in 2010, but industry lobbying managed to prevent it. Hawaii is the first state to ban plastic bags and paper bags as well, if they don’t have a minimum of 40% recycled content.

For more background on plastic bag laws:

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