Tsirang Initiates A Ban On Plastic Bags While Encouraging The Use Of Clean Bhutan’s Biodegradable Jute Bags

The dzongkhag administration has agreed to set up a stall where vendors and customers can buy biodegradable bags and jute bags.

Environmental Friendly jute bags (Source: everything-environmental.co.uk)

 

By Nirmala Pokhrel | Kuensel

With all the sector heads of the Tsirang dzongkhag administration carrying Clean Bhutan’s biodegradable jute bags to the Sunday vegetable market, the dzongkhag administration has initiated to ban plastic and minimise its usage.

A few students of Damphu Central School also joined the sector heads and went around the market, explaining the damage plastics cause to the environment.

The vendors were told not to provide plastics as carrying bags to the customers and were encouraged to reuse them.

Customers’ request for plastic bags drives its demand

The vendors also agreed that plastic bags are a burden. They said that while they were not keen to use plastic bags because it would cost them extra, it was the customers who demanded for them. Without providing these bags, customers would not buy their products.

A vendor, Kunti Maya said that she is happy to know that she does not have to buy plastic bags anymore to sell her produce.

However, she said that there is a need for a substitute, which must be cheaper than plastic while at the same time, it must be good for the environment.

Another vendor, Chencho said that she buys at least a kilogram of plastic every month to package and sell her produce. A kilogram of plastic bags cost her Nu 200.

“Banning plastics is saving money for me. I’m more than happy to comply,” she said.

A stall to be set up to sell biodegradable bags and jute bags

The dzongkhag administration has agreed to set up a stall where vendors and customers can buy biodegradable bags and jute bags.

The dzongkhag environment officer, Dorji Wangdi said that the programme was conducted at the vegetable market to reach the maximum number of people.

He said that the dzongkhag is creating awareness and encouraging the residents to minimise the use of plastics or to reuse them.

“The implementation and compliance are expected to be more stringent with time,” he said. “If things don’t change, we have to comply with the Waste Management Act.”

Concerns regarding the sustainability of the initiative

While most were positive about the initiative, some people raised concerns on how sustainable the initiative would be.

They stated that this is not the first time that the dzongkhag or the country has taken steps to ban plastics. The measure has actually increased the usage of plastic bags instead.

A shopkeeper in Damphu, Nima Gyeltshen said that much before this initiative, he tried to stop providing plastic bags to customers but that has brought about monetary loss to his business.

“If this initiative has to succeed, a complete ban is what would make the real difference, more than an awareness,” he said, adding that sellers and customers should be penalised.

 “Otherwise being plastic-free would just remain a far-fetched dream.”

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.

 


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