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Will the ban work this time?

Starting Monday, April 1, the ban on single use plastic carry bags, doma wrappers and ice cream pouches comes into effect, reinforcing a ban that was once tried two decades ago.

There is a voluntary movement against the use of plastics in particular and waste in general.Every now and then we see people post pictures of collecting waste. Cleaning campaigns are held, plastics are seized at the border and people are being informed about the impending ban. This is good for the country and the people. With development and increasing consumerism, we are generating a lot of waste, more than we can handle.

Our landfills are getting overfilled. Trash is a big problem anywhere in the country. One common complain amongst tourist is on waste.In the towns, small and big, waste is overflowing into drains blocking them and sending sewage on the busy roads. Farmers are also complaining of waste getting into their fields.

If there is a movement, it should be on waste management. How the ban will work is yet to be seen, but what we know are most of our bans don’t work. We banned sale of tobacco, import of chilies, using mobile while driving, for instance. Everybody knows how effective it is.

From our experience, it is easy to impose bans. But difficult to implement and monitor them. One common waste is the empty cigarette packet, a banned item.

The National Environment Commission who is responsible for the ban should have learnt lessons from our past experience with bans. We hope the commission will ensure it works this time.

Even as we wait for the ban to come into force, the common question is why is the ban only on few selected plastic items. While carry bags and doma wrappers are one of the many plastic waste, the so-called ice cream pouches is not a common waste. There are not many people who sell or consume it.

The bigger problem is from PET bottles, glass bottles, diapers and covers of junk food. What about them? It will be difficult to ban the import of junk, but we can manage waste with proper management systems.

Strategies are planned to curb waste at source, but it will be challenging if people are not participating. The responsibility fall on each one us. We have done numerous awareness and cleaning campaigns, but the waste keep coming back. Some are feeling that the campaigners are there to clean their waste.

One way of controlling waste is penalizing people. Like suggested earlier by this paper, our authorities should now start using the strict rule. If the thromde or NEC starts penalizing people who do not take care of their waste, people will feel the pinch.

Given our small population, it will not be difficult to implement. Building owners should be made responsible for trash near their buildings. They will ensure that their tenants will take care of their waste.

Authorities could employ hundreds of waste inspectors. This will also help create some jobs and revenue for the government.

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