Plastic-bag users threatened with prison

12 September 2009


The global battle against plastic picked up pace this week when Delhi officals announced a five year prison penalty for anyone found carrying a polythenee shopping bag.

Officials in India's capital believe that the only way to stem the rising tide of rubbish is to completely outlaw the plastic shopping bag.  This means the ''use, storage and sale'' of plastic bags of any kind or thickness will be banned.  Those found abusing this law could face a 100,000 rupee fine (NZ$3,800) and possible jail time for using non-biodegradable bags.

In recent years, Delhi has been drowing in a sea of plastic. It's believed that more than 10 million bags are used in the capital every day. While the average use-life of each bag is only a couple of minutes, each discared bag will take hundreds of years to decompose.

Project Jonah welcomes the tough new measures. "Sometimes you need radical legislation to change consumer habits.  New Zealand's lagging behind on this front and it's time our Government took more direct action," says Kimberly Muncaster, Project Jonah CEO.

Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags in 2002.  Taiwan, Australia, Rwanda and Singapore have since moved to ban, discourage or promote reuse of plastic bags, hundreds of billions of which are handed out free each year.  Towns and cities in India, the US and UK have followed.

Ireland and Denmark have both placed a tax on plastic bags.  In Dublin, the 2002 introduced tax has reduced plastic bag usage by 95%.

Some UK supermarkets have taken voluntary action, but they were warned last year that they had a year to reduce the number of plastic bags handed out or face legislation.

"Everyone has a vital role to play in reducing their use of plastic," says Kimberly.  To find out how you can make a difference click here.



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