From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published August 9, 2010 02:46 PM

Plastic Bag Problems in India

Plastic shopping bags, carrier bags or plastic grocery bags are a common type of carryall used in several countries. Most often these bags are intended for one single use to carry items from a store to a home.  Before then paper bags were most commonly used.  The real change in grocery bags did not start until 1982, when the two of America’s largest grocery companies Safeway and Kroger started replacing paper bags with plastic bags.  These bags are useful and inexpensive but can cause numerous other problems.


Many people have concerns on plastic shopping bags.  The traditional reason is that littered bags are unsightly and can create a hazard to animal life. Littering is often a problem no matter where you live in the world.

In India’s largest state a new environmental issue recently surfaced which has resulted in a complete ban on the use of plastic bags in the last few weeks.

From the beginning of August 2010, the manufacture, storage, import, sale and transport of plastic carry bags will be illegal in Rajasthan.  No shopkeeper, retailer, trader, hawker or vendor will be allowed to supply goods to consumers in bags.

The measure was proposed after local municipalities had complained of blocked sewer lines, drainage systems and water distribution pipelines due to plastics buried in the soil, providing breeding grounds for malaria and dengue fever. In Mumbai in 2005, India experienced massive monsoon flooding partially as a result of drains blocked by plastic bags, resulting in over 1,000 deaths.

Only a few percent of all plastic bags are recycled and the rest of the bags can theoretically persist for centuries in landfills, floating in the breeze or, as in India plugging water lines and creating disease sources.

There is a need for bags or something similar to bring goods back and forth. The problem is that the bag needs to be biodegradable or recyclable.

Polyethylene plastic bags are recyclable. The problem is getting a large enough mass of bags together and compressed tightly. Otherwise bag recycling is more like recycling air.

Plastic bags are not same as plastic bottles. Bags cannot be recycled with bottles. Several supermarkets and department stores have set up bag recycling bins that will at least get the bags to the right place to be recycled.

The bags are needed. We must find a better way to handle them.

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