Carry a plastic bag in Delhi and you could be imprisoned for five years. Officials in India’s capital have decided that the only way to stem the rising tide of polythene is to outlaw the plastic shopping bag.
According to the official note, the “use, storage and sale” of plastic bags of any kind or thickness will be banned. The new guideline means that customers, shopkeepers, hoteliers and hospital staff face a 100,000 rupee fine (£1,370) and a possible jail sentence for using non-biodegradable bags….
Civil servants said that punitive measures were needed after a law prohibiting all but the thinnest plastic bags – no thicker than 0.04mm – was ignored.
Although the government had originally concluded that plastic bags were too cheap and convenient to be disposed of, the authorities appear to have been swayed by environmentalists who pointed out that used bags were clogging drains and so providing breeding grounds for malaria and dengue fever. There is evidence that prohibition of plastic bags can work. Countries such as Rwanda, Bhutan and Bangladesh have all had bans enforced.