Plastic bags are the curse of modern society. Made from petroleum or natural gas based products, they can take up to a hundred years and more to decompose. Meanwhile, they become serial killers, clogging drains and waterways, and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds and marine animals who become entangled in or eat the plastic bags.
Plastic bags, however, have also become the icon of convenience shopping and trying to pry this icon from a shopper’s grasp is one of the major issues confronting officials and politicians around the world. Some countries and cities have opted for bag bans, others for bag tax.
But officials in Delhi, where the streets are not lined in gold but littered with plastic bags, have taken a giant leap forward and announced that plastic bags will be outlawed altogether. New guidelines were released earlier this month declaring that the “use, storage, and sale” of plastic bags of any kind or thickness will be banned in Dehli.
Those who ignore these guidelines will a severe fine and risk five years jail time. Draconian, perhaps. But in a city where – by conservative estimates – over 10 million plastic bags are used every day, city officials have decided enough is enough.
They say that they will go soft on everyone initially, giving them time to switch to alternative bags such as jute, paper, and cotton bags. But how they are going to enforce this in the long run is unclear.
As you can imagine, environmentalists are applauding the move while shopkeepers and retailers say it will simply end up costing the consumer.