India: Mumbai Bans Single-Use Plastic, Users Face Fines, Prison

The North Western Indian city of Mumbai in Maharashtra has become the largest Indian city to ban the use of single-use plastics as the residents using plastic bags, cups or bottles will face penalties of up to US$367 and three months in jail starting Monday.

The densely populated city by the sea, also the main financial district of the country, has placed council inspectors in navy blue jackets across the city who will monitor the businesses or residents still using plastic bags. According to the Guardian, penalties which range from nearly US$73 to US$367,  with a threat of three months’ jail for those caught repeatedly using single-use plastics, have already kicked in for businesses with McDonald’s and Starbucks having already been fined.

“For the pollution situation it’s fine to do this but for the people, it is a big problem,” said Kamlash Mohan Chaudhary, a Mumbai resident according to the Guardian. “People here carry everything in plastic bags.”

Earlier in June while hosting the World Environment Day focused on the epidemic of plastic waste, India announced an ambitious pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022. The initiative comes at a time of a global drive focused on tackling the toxic impact of  plastic waste.

India’s use of plastic is less than half of the global average: about 11kg a year per capita compared with the U.S.’ 109kg. But India has one of the highest rates of mismanaging plastic waste in the world, per a 2015 study. The plastic wrappers, cups, and bags have been a perennial issue in India as mountain-sized landfills line the outskirts of major cities like Delhi.

Since 1950, about 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been discarded into the environment globally, most of which will not break down for at least 450 years. A report published by the Time Magazine claims that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.


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