Of Course HM And Amazon Are Lobbying Against India's Plastic Ban

by: Lucy Jones | 2 months ago | News

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Last month, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced an ambitious plan to eradicate all single-use plastics from the country by 2022. A ban on all plastic food containers, spoons, forks, bottles and packaging came into effect in the state of Maharashtra on June 23. Representatives from H&M, Amazon, Coca-Cola, and plastic production companies met with government officials on the same day to lobby against the ban. According to sources who spoke to Reuters, these companies urged the government to introduce the ban in phases and relax some of the new rules.

"Our demand to the government is: give the industry seven years to come up with alternatives," general secretary of the Plastic Bags Manufacturers Association of India Neemit Punamiya, who attended the meeting, said. "It cannot happen overnight — we've got investments, we've got loans to pay and people to manage."

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry also voiced concerns about a hard ban in a letter to the state government, writing:

"[This ban] will not be without its own share of adverse environmental impacts which are largely driven by issues associated with the use of alternatives."

The Internet and Mobile Association of India has asked the state to relax the ban and Pepsi and Coca-Cola want to be exempt from the rules entirely. H&M has also asked the government to clarify the ban and to help them come up with single-use plastic alternatives. Online retailers like H&M rely on cheap single-use plastic packaging that is made in India. These materials account for 2-3.5% of product shipping and delivery costs. These costs will increase if online relaters are forced to use biodegradable plastics or plastic alternatives.

Following the July 23 meeting, a state official told Reuters that the government might moderate the ban for online retailers or give them more time to comply. Bharati Chaturvedi, founder of environmental justice organisation Chintan, warned that such leniency could defeat the purpose of the ban. 

"We should really have a hard ban," she explained. 

So far, the Indian government has been staunch about the plastic ban. Squads of officials have been raiding shops and restaurants in Mumbai to enforce the ban since it came into effect. Those who violate the ban face fines of up to 25,000 rupees ($492.75 AUD) and jail terms of up to three months.

It must suck to be working in the single-use plastic industry right now, but if governments compromise on plastic bans the huge plastic pollution problem facing the planet will only get worse. These initiatives might cost massive corporations more money, but they will save the planet from a lot of devestation in the long run. 

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