Plastics Ban or Big Bang

The Big BAN, no Big Bang!

India is fast becoming a country that cannot control many of its day to day issues. Is this because of lack of governance or will, or just a lackadaisical attitude?

The net result is deteriorating services, which when they reach the stage of unmanageable problems, the only solution the government can think of is banning….they cannot think of managing such issues.

The ban on cars more than 15 years old is so ridiculous. We cannot inspect cars for their usefulness and viability? The easiest is to ban.

The ban on plastics is another example. Why don’t we see such huge issues in USA, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Europe. How do they manage?

Our pet excuse is we have a huge population, but our use of plastics is less than in the US. How did they manage plastics waste? What methods did they use, from strict collection policies, to even stricter littering laws?

We just seem to turn a blind eye to problems such as this, till someone in the press talks about it or posts a picture. A few days of seeming activity follow and we are back to the status quo of garbage, filth and plastics waste.

This banning culture instead of leading to big bang solutions will lead to our banning everything:

We will ban pollution. Oh, oh, we cannot, because that is the solution. Let us ban the environment. Then we won’t have to care about clean air, and we can all be banned (read die).

Let us ban old people because we cannot take care of them.

We should ban traffic because we cannot manage it. Just drive to the airport, and see the many cars parked en route, some next to police stations. Instead of being challaned, they have now encouraged street vendors selling food and drink.

Let us ban till we have nothing to ban other than big government with no big bang solutions other than bans.

Perhaps we should ban them before we ourselves get banned, as the polluters and the source of the problem.

Most of us in business or as users do not think about pollution, ecology, society or any of these things. We think of ourselves and our convenience. The convenience of the company is to make products that sell, and make money. The convenience of users is being able to use something as one desires, conveniently.

Convenience is in a sense, selfishness. What is good for me seems to overtake what is good for all of us, and the earth. Remember, if we abuse, Mother Earth, we will suffer. Mother Earth can survive without us, but we cannot survive without her.

So the first thing is how the user can be brought to curb plastics pollution:

  1. Make it convenient for him to throw the package into bins and recycling streams. Sadly, these do not exist.
  2. Make it inconvenient for him to use the package: This does not mean inconvenient packages, it means a large cost to prevent throwaway packages. Let’s take Sunset point at Naddi, Dharamsala. Once a pristine site, now it is littered mostly with plastics and also with paper, cans, etc.

Can we charge a punitive fee like Rs 15 for a plastics or glass bottle, whereas the cost of the bottle and product maybe Rs 12. At the exit of Sunset point, let the user deposit the bottle and get his money back.

This will send an instant message to the user and also the seller and the manufacturer, that it is not business as usual. Let it be inconvenient to pollute.

  1. Build awareness. Let us use neuroscience to get dreams of being capsized in plastics bottles, or the like. Let us use social media.
  2. A large scale ban can force manufacturers to react. Let them look at pollution when they sell raw materials. What if a GST like tax was added to the raw material and refunded through proper recycling of the end product?

Users can:

  • Bring their own shopping bag. …
  • Stop buying bottled water. …
  •        Bring their own thermos to the coffee shop. …
  • Choose cardboard or paper over plastics bottles and bags. …
  • Say no to straws. …
  • Get the plastics off your face. …
  • Skip the disposable razor. …
  • Switch from disposable diapers to cloth.

All add to inconvenience. Do we have a choice?

The manufacturer has to start a circularity program of:

  1. Using biodegradable materials. For example, millet based spoons are available for ice-cream, and the spoon can be used along with the ice-cream. The plastics technology has to be biodegradable.
  2. The products have to be re-usable, and easily re-cyclable
  3. Encourage users to participate in ecology, as outlined above.
  4. Set up a fund for picking up plastics waste

Plastics pollution, indeed all pollution is a clear and present danger. There is no time for pussyfooting. Manufacturers and users have to become serious about the dangers. Let not the plastics industry hide behind the statement we are only 12% of all solid waste.

The time has come for the plastics industry and individual companies to get together with the Government and set up a time bound program for plastics to shift to biodegradable, to pick up larger percentages of plastics waste, and larger conversion of waste to useful products.

This has to be like the automobile Bharat Stage emission norms and the Euro emission norms. These have to be strict and enforceable. Companies should fear being banned.


Gautam Mahajan, 
President, Customer Value Foundation and Inter-Link India

Founder Editor, Journal of Creating Value

New Delhi 110065 +91 98100 60368  

Twitter @ValueCreationJ  Blogs:

Author of Value CreationTotal Customer Value ManagementCustomer Value InvestmentHow Creating Customer Value Makes you a Great Executive 

Come to the ​Second​  Global Conference on Creating Value, May ​2019 ​ in New York, U​SA

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