June 27: American fast food giant McDonald’s and American coffee major Starbucks were charged with penalty by the Maharashtra state government as part of its ban on use of single use plastic. As per reports, two of the restaurant chains were among the various other companies, in Maharashtra, which were penalised.
In March, the government announced a ban on single-use plastic items, which include the plastic bags, food containers and cutlery. This was brought into force on June 23.
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed plastic as a ‘menace to humanity’. Backing the urgent global campaign, the Modi government has pledged to eliminate single- use plastic from India by 2022. The global campaign was put forth based on the research which revealed that by the year 2015, there will be more plastic by weight than fish in the oceans.
Of the 29 states in India, 25 have full or partial bans on single-use plastics. But these norms are not put into force strictly. Maharashtra is strictly working on this as they have already started forcing companies to change their ways.
Hardcastle Restaurants, based in Maharashtra, which is a franchisee that runs McDonald’s outlets claim to have been using wooden cutlery, paper cups and straws made of corn starch. Still the restaurant chain was fined because they had not yet found an alternative for delivery items including lids for drinks. The fast food company has joined the regional restaurant association in order to seek an exception in ban for delivery items and takeaways. The American coffee company meanwhile has not yet commented on the issue.
For first time offenders, the fine starts at Rs 5000. This will rise to Rs 25,000 according to the violations. For serial offenders the punishments may rise up to imprisonment.
The ban sets a huge challenge for small business and retailers. As per the statement made by Neemit Punamiya, Secretary, Plastic Bags Manufacturers Association of India, the ban will bring a loss of around $ 2.2 billion in the Indian plastic industry. This will also create an employment crisis where around 300,000 jobs will be lost.
Hipen Bheda, President, All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association has been quoted as saying that decisions should be taken to find solutions for pollution and not against the industry. He also added that the industry is ready to work with government to improve waste management practices.
As of now, the Maharashtra government has excluded plastic items for export, plastic containers to pack medicines, milk and solid waste from the ban. According to reports quoting officials, authorities in Mumbai on June 24 collected an amount of Rs 40,0000 from the around 80 organizations as fine for using single- use plastic. A similar amount was collected by the officials of Pune and other major cities.