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Disposables banned in Indore’s Sarafa eateries

Saturday - October 6, 2018 11:21 am , Category : OPINION & INTERVIEW

WTN- The new order of the Indore municipal corporation to ban disposables in eateries in one of the most delectable food markets in the city, Sarafa, has been greeted with doubts, protests and muted acceptance.

The problem is not just the future unavailability and disuse of thermocol and plastic disposables that will pose material inconveniences to small eatery owners, the problem is also regarding the substitute that has been suggested, i.e the use of steel utensils for serving food and copper cans for serving water. Almost 15,000-20,000 people visit Sarafa daily and doing away with disposables means arranging about 20,000 steel plates to serve those people. Buying such a large consignment of utensils all of a sudden will set the traders back by around Rs 2.5 lakh, which the eatery owners are not willing to bear. The corporation has its valid set of arguments. It says plastic disposables are un-environment friendly and dumping/recycling such huge waste daily is an onerous task for the corporation. 

But the question is, is using steel the best way? There is a section that says steel is not that good for health either. High grade steel is better but to save costs, hotels would naturally go for lower grade steel, which has chemical contents in their make that can affect health following prolonged use. This concern is in the meantime not high on anybody’s mind. It is also possible that many eateries will resort to newspaper pieces to serve certain kinds of food or even use plastics clandestinely. 

The consumer will be the ultimate sufferer. Plastic no doubt should be banned but plastic ban will never be completely successful in the country unless a practicable substitute is in place. Our attempts at banning plastics have mostly failed earlier because of this lack of a proper substitute to replace it. All the substitutes that are suggested or promoted are inconvenient, inflexible, expensive or cumbersome which make them unpopular. The best substitute of plastic for food is ideally the traditional dona/pattal or handmade plates prepared from Saal leaves.

They are highly eco-friendly and easily disposable as well as quite inexpensive to buy/use. No one thus would mind having donas as their plate for eating. Banana leaves or leaves of other trees can also be used to serve food on. The other major factor for discouraging the use of steel is the need for water to keep them clean. Indore is a water scarce city. Half of its residential colonies suffer water crisis for almost 4-5 months a year. Washing utensils needs gallons of water. Washing 20,000 steel plates and glasses everyday will lead to huge amount of water loss. It is to save water and money that disposables were first introduced. Going back to the same old steel regime is regressive to a certain extent. 

Moreover, in the Sarafa area where the ban is being implemented, there is no designated washing area. So there remains the fear of contamination and reuse of dirty water in small enclosures of hotels. Who is going to check these? The corporation must devise ways to address these issues before going for a blanket ban on plastic disposables. Homework well done will ensure greater sustainability of the new plan.


-Window To News
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