As the city-wide ban on one-time-use plastic goes into effect, the BMC is holding a three-day exhibition at the National Sports Club of India in Worli, to spread awareness on how to live plastic-free.
On display across 120 stalls are cloth bags, biodegradable plates, cups and straws made of a sugarcane fibre called bagasse. There are washable sanitary napkins and plant pots made from recycled plastic bottles. Most items are on sale. There are also displays on how residents and office-goers can dispose plastic more responsibly.
First-day crowds, drawn in through WhatsApp messages and newspaper advertisements, included business-owners considering alternatives to plastic carry-bags. “I have found mostly cloth bags, which won’t help in the monsoon,” said Darshan Doshi, owner of a clocks store in Borivli. He was interested in biodegradable ones made of corn starch and polylactic acid.
Parvana Mistry, whose mother co-owns the Parsi Dairy Farm at Princess Street, came looking for new ways to deliver curd. “For four months, we have been wrapping cottage cheese in butter paper and using paper bags for deliveries. We can’t do that with curd,” she said.
Subhash Dalvi, officer on special duty for the Swachh Bharat Mission, who was visiting the exhibition believes the public platform shows citizens that there are alternatives to plastic, and that officials are on hand to address queries. “We are happy that so many people have turned up and are asking questions,” he said. “Some actually had plastic bag samples and asked me, ‘Is this banned? Is it not?’ The good thing is that they are not opposing it, just need clarity.”
At the stall for RaddiConnect, a waste-management service, co-founder Gurashish Sahni offered tips on how Mumbaiites could send used plastic and paper to a recycling centre. “Plastic has always been recycled in an unorganised manner,” he said. “We need to streamline the process and make manufacturers more accountable.”
Restaurateurs were especially concerned about takeaway boxes. “We have been told that take-away containers are exempt from the ban,” said Anurag Katriar, executive director and CEO of deGustibus Hospitality and chapter head for the Mumbai region of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).
Surya Diwedi, purchase manager at Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, which owns the Social chain and Smoke House Delis, says shifting to new packaging will be tough. “It will increase costs by two to three times. We also need leak-proof, durable materials,” he said. Biodegradable polymers not as sturdy. Bagasse doesn’t stay watertight for long, making delivery of gravies and dals a problem.
“We started trying out aluminium foil boxes last month,” said Rohan Manglorkar, founder of the takeaway and delivery joint Pack-a-Pav, with outlets in Bandra and Juhu. “The containers don’t stack well, which hampers transport again.”