By now even a child knows the dangers involved in using disposable plastic bags which pose a great environmental hazard to humans as well as animals, both terrestrial as well as aquatic. During the last two decades increased awareness about these hazards have compelled many countries to introduce legislation to curb their use drastically over a period of time. Unfortunately the progress achieved cannot be said to be satisfactory as stricter laws are not being implemented rigorously and sternly. The result is that fossil fuel plastics continue to dominate in the day to day lives of population in many countries. The talk about substituting these almost indestructible man-made materials is going on though here also progress is not some thing about which we can really proud of. Bioplastics including Biopolymers have established their credentials with almost all user industries but their production has not reached even half a million tons per year while global demand for plastics stands at around 13 million tons. Europe is particularly in the forefront in dealing with use of plastics and their disposal and here is the latest development in this bloc of 28 nations as reported recently
"According to the new rules, member states could either ban free plastic bags for shoppers by 2018 or else ensure that the average consumption of them does not exceed 90 a year per person by 2019. Under the proposal to be voted on by the environment committee, member states could choose to either ban free plastic bags for shoppers by 2018 or else take measures to make sure that the average consumption of these bags drops to 90 a year for each person by 2019 and to 40 by 2025. The European Commission would be required to evaluate the impact on the environment of oxo-degradable plastic materials, which fragment into small particles, and propose measures accordingly."
In India also "brave" talks are there regarding banning of plastics but where ever laws have been promulgated the enforcement is practically non-existent! Low awareness about the risks in continued use and careless disposal of plastics adds up to the problem. Government of India's brand new initiative under the name of Swach Bharat Abhiyan aims to stop mindless littering all around in urban as well as rural areas but it remains to be seen whether this will remain largely a photo-op without achieving much. At the retailers level there are some sincere players who already insist on the customers to bring their own bags or give only non-plastic carry bags at a price. Here again the possibility of this segment becoming lethargic in due course of time because of laxity all around cannot be ruled out. If adequate deterrent punishments are put on the statute books for violation of laws pertaining to use of plastics, probably that may have a salutary effect.