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 Plastic bags
  Every year, around 500 billion (500,000,000,000) plastic bags are used worldwide. So many that over one million bags are being every minute and they're damaging our environment.  India's plastics consumption is one of the highest in the world. Yet, precious little has been done to recycle, re-use and dispose of plastic waste. Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle and most end up on landfill sites where they take around 300 years to photo degrade. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when  animals accidentally ingest them. But the problems surrounding waste plastic bags starts long before they photo degrade.

                   

  Our planet is becoming increasingly contaminated by our unnecessary use of plastic carry bags. Big black bin liners, plastic carrier bags carrying advertising logos, clear sandwich bags, vegetable bags and a variety of other forms used to carry our daily food items and other items are all polluting our environment. Just take a look around you. Plastic bags can be seen hanging from the branches of trees, flying in the air on windy days, settled amongst bushes and floating on rivers. They clog up gutters and drains causing water and sewage to overflow and become the breeding grounds of germs and bacteria that cause diseases.

  Animals and sea creatures are hurt and killed every day by discarded plastic bags - a dead turtle with a plastic bag hanging from its mouth isn't a pleasant sight but mistaking plastic bags for food is commonplace amongst marine animals. Plastic clogs their intestines and leads to slow starvation. Others become entangled in plastic bags and drown. Because plastic bags take hundreds of years to break down, every year our seas become 'home' to more and more bags that find their way there through our sewers and waterways. Given India's poor garbage collection facilities, tons of plastic bags litter the roads, preventing rainwater from seeping into the ground. Hundreds of cows die in New Delhi alone every year when they choke on plastic bags while trying to eat vegetable waste stuffed in the garbage.

 

  Plastic bags chock drains
  Every bag that's washed down a drain during rainfall ends up in the sea every bag that's flushed down a toilet (many mall bags are), ends up in the sea - every bag that’s blown into a river will most likely end up in the sea. Besides choking drains, plastics are highly toxics. When burned they release cancer-causing gases. Lying in the garbage, polythene bags also find their way in gut of cattle, asphyxiating the animals. The cheap bags contain chemicals such as cadmium- or lead-based chemicals that are harmful to health. They leach into vegetables, meat and food.   
 
An estimated 15 lakh computers and 30 lakh mobile phones are disposed of every year in India. “Computers, mobiles and other electronic items generate hazardous e-waste like lead, brominated flame retardants and chromium which can cause cancer,” There is another problem: India has more to deal with than just the waste generated at home. The Environment  Protection Authority of Britain recently said 23,000  tonnes of e-waste was dumped in India, China and Pakistan.
 
Ban on Plastic bags
  Several countries have already banned their use and more will doubtless follow. Several Indian states such as Maharastra, Dehli, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himanchal Pradesh, Goa etc. banned their use. Mumbai's storm water drainage choking with accumulated plastics waste, making the floods unmanageable, is an old story. The Environment Ministry has banned manufacture and use of plastics carry bags less than 8 inches X 12 inches in  size 20 micron in width. The ministry has also asked State Governments to register all plastics manufacturing unit, so that these can be regulated. However, the implementation of the order has been tardy, evident from the large number of polythene bags strewn in every major town and city.
  The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water with its recent announcement banning plastic bags completely by 2013. Jute is one of the strongest natural plant fibers which is durable and re-usable. It is a 100 % natural material that consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the atmosphere. Fabrics made of jute fibers are therefore carbon dioxide neutral and are naturally decomposable.
 The alternative to plastic bags are paper bags, jute bags and cloth bags. Paper, Jute and Cloth are eco-friendly. Jute bags are most suitable substitute then paper and cloth, because it is cheaper then cloth and reusable. Though paper bags are cheaper then jute bags but less durable. The West Bengal Government, which has decided to ban plastic bags in Kolkata and other prominent towns and cities in the State, intends to make use of jute bags mandatory through suitable legislation.
  
 
An example set by Vietnam's 61-year old Le Loc 
 
A former chemistry student in Vietnam, 61-year old Le Loc spent $85,700 (1.5 billion Dong) to invent a biodegradable bag all on his own. He had little support. Le Loc said he couldn’t get a loan from the bank, because they didn’t believe that the project would succeed. Over the last five years he devoted himself to finding a solution to Vietnam’s plastic bag problem. He mortgaged his house. With the help of technology from the US, he has developed a biodegradable packaging product that will biodegrade after 49-103 days if exposed to direct sunlight, natural bacteria or high humidity. His bags are now available at different localities nationwide and in foreign markets. He is the director of Phuc Le Gia Trade and Service Co. Ltd.. In May, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment granted Loc’s bags the “Environment Green Label” title. He has also passed quality assurance inspection by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
 
Future for polyethylene bags
  While the future for polyethylene bags may be death by regulation and taxation, manufacturers in the industry have decided to participate in the debate without shutting their doors and throwing their hands up.
In efforts to participate at the policy and legislative level, manufacturing companies in the US have become part of the Progressive Bag Alliance (PBA) in order to help shape environmentally-sound laws and policies. One of the outgrowths of this Alliance is a loop-closing effort by Hilex, one of the leaders in the manufacturing of polyethylene retail bags. The effort Bag-2-Bag is a way to prevent plastic bags from making their way to landfills. Instead, Hilex has built a $13 million recycling plant where they turn used bags collected at grocery stores and retail locations into clean new bags. 
   In efforts to counter policies and legislation that have banned plastic bag use to reduce pollution in cities  manufacturers are increasing recycling efforts to revive the PRCBs industry. Ireland imposed a tax on every plastic bag used at a retail location. The PBA  includes several PRCB manufacturers and was established by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), which worked with non-profits, government and business groups this past summer on a “Got Your Bags?” campaign in California. The campaign was a public education effort to encourage shoppers to bring their plastic bags back to stores for recycling. The PBA has announced that by 2015 they aim to include 40% recycled content, including 25% post-consumer material in all plastic shopping  bags made by member companies. According to the ACC, the Full Circle Recycling Initiative will reduce greenhouse gas emission by 463 million pounds, conserve enough energy (mainly natural gas) to heat 200,000 homes and reduce waste by 300 million pounds every year. 
 
Fashion today on the use of natural fabrics
  Fashion today being the trend towards mass luxury and second being the drive for eco-sustainable fashion. Natural fabrics are bio-degradable and can be used to regenerate the earth on decay.They are also carbon neutral. They release no more than the amount of CO2 absorbed when incinerated.  
  Where the production of 1 tonne of polypropylene used in packaging, containers and cordage emits more than 3 tonnes of Carbon dioxide (CO2) where as jute absorbs 2.4 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne produced. 
  Now, these are healthy choices due to their wicking properties unlike the synthetics materials used in garment for weight reduction programmes. This also makes it imperative for designers to make knowledgeable choices. Although most Indian luxury design is based on the use of natural fabrics, the spread of the fashion phenomena here, is leading to the massive demand for synthetic materials such as polyesters at the cheaper end. Again the advantage for natural fibres is that we can recycle the old with the new when it comes to creating manmade fabrics. That we can create eco-sustainable designs. 
 
PMC to subsidise manufacturing of jute, paper bags 
  Following its decision on January 8, 2010 to ban plastic bags in the city, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to give subsidy for manufacturing jute and paper bags. "We want to ensure that Pune is completely free of plastic bags. To support the ban we decided to subsidise manufacturing of jute and plastic bags.  The PMC will offer subsidies, especially to small saving groups, for manufacturing jute and paper bags, Bhosale said, adding, "All these years plastic had become a major problem and we have decided to get rid of it. 
 
Indian states on plastic bags ban
  Various States have increased the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags to even higher limits of 40, 50, or 
70 microns. These States/ UTs are: Goa (40 micron), Himachal Pradesh ( 70 micron; HP Cabinet decided to ban plastics in the entire State with effect from 15.08.2009), Maharashtra (50 micron), Meghalaya ( 40 micron), Punjab (30 micron), Chandigarh (30 micron),  West Bengal (40 micron ), Kerala (30 micron).
(a) The Government of Delhi issued a notification dated 21st November 2008 titled “ the Delhi Degradable Plastic Bag ( Manufacturing, Sale and Usage )and Garbage (Control) (Amendment ) Act, 2008” Section 11(b0 of this notification stipulates that no person shall manufacture, stock, distribute or sell plastic begs made of virgin of recycled, degradable or non –degradable plastic bags which are less than 40 microns in thickness. Another notification issued on 7th January 2009 under the powers delegated to Government of Delhi by the Central Government under Section -5 of the Environment (Protection ) Act, 1986, which prohibits the use, sale and storage off all kinds of plastic bags in Five Star and Four Star Hotels, Hospitals with 100 more beds except the use of plastic bags as pres cribbed under Bio-medical Waste (management and handling) Rules, 
seats, all fruits and vegetable outlets selling different consumer products including fruits and vegetables.
 (b) West Bengal Pollution Control Board has banned manufacture, sale and use of plastic carry bags in ecologically fragile areas viz the entire Sunderban areas, Hilly areas of Darjeeling distinct, Sub-division, 
CRZ areas (Digha, Sagar, Bakkhali etc.), Forest areas and in different heritage and tourist site.
 (c) Action has been initiated for public awareness (trainings, workshops) for plastic waste management such 
as proper disposal of plastic bottles, banning of plastic carry bags, use of cloth/jute bags etc.
 (d) Coloured Plastic carry bags have been banned in Himachal Pradesh. Use of plastic carry begs have been 
banned in some districts in Mizoram /West Bengal 
  (e) Jammu and Kashmir has also banned polythene carry bags under Non Bio- Degradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007 with effect from  11.5.2009.
 (f) Government of Himachal Pradesh has taken a cabinet decision for complete bad of plastics in Himachal 
Pradesh under the HP Non-Biodegradable Garbage Control Act, 1995 effective from 15th August 2009. 

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