English | Dzongkha Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Plastic ban still ineffective

Sonam Phuntsho, Thimphu
Jan 14, 2013

plasticBanThe initiative to ban plastic in 1999 grabbed international headlines and garnered global attention and appreciation. But the initiative was only to be the tip of the iceberg. In the 13 years that followed, the ban had to be reintroduced in 2005 and a new regulation had to be worked out in 2012. And still today, the plastic ban, to its true sense, is yet to find a foothold in Bhutan.

The former Director General of the then Ministry of Trade and Industry, Achyut Bhandari, said what lacked at that time (1999) was proper follow up due to resource constraint because monitoring and ensuring compliance was difficult. “We did not have a proper legislation to back our rules and regulations.” He said it was the cabinet’s decision and thus not possible for people who were following-up in the Ministry of Trade and Industry to complain against somebody illegally.

Achyut Bhandari said the most important issue back then was the general awareness among the people in Bhutan. “You can see if it is not very good now, imagine 10-15 years back.”

The ban was again reinforced in 2005. The lack of proper alternatives to plastic bags was one of the main reasons.  Plastics in the form of pre-packed plastic goods, continued to flood the markets.

There were some alternatives, such as using cloth bags and other biodegradable plastic bags, put in place. The ‘Clean Bhutan Initiative’ under the Royal Society for Protection of Nature, with support from various ministries and agencies, was formed to address the issue of solid waste management particularly plastic.

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But even after the reinforcement in 2005, solid waste including plastic, continued to remain a growing concern, especially in urban centers like Thimphu.

Thimphu alone produces about 60 tons of waste a day and it is growing.

Then came Waste Prevention and Management Regulation in April 2012 after thorough consultation with various implementing agencies.

In an earlier interview with BBS, the Secretary of National Environment Commission, Dr. Ugyen Tshewang, said implementing agencies were not carrying out their roles and responsibilities effectively.

The Thimphu Thromde, one of the implementing agencies and also the one that handles maximum workload of waste, says despite difficulty and challenges the office is doing its best to address the waste issue. “It takes some time to change the attitude of people. I don’t think we can do this within a year or two. But I am sure over next couple of years we can do it,” said the Thimphu Thrompon, Kinlay Dorjee. He said they are still serious about the ban and are  imposing penalties.

13 Comments for “Plastic ban still ineffective”

  1. Tatogpa

    In yester years, we use to pack and carry everything i.e. “Zaw”, “Tengma”, rice etc. in our clothe bags. Nowadays, it is replaced with plastic bags. Again, we use to use bamboo flasks to carry tea and water; but today it is replaced with plastic jugs and cups which is throwable once used and people throw these plastic bottles, plastic bags and plastic cups and plastic plates.

    Even home-made produces like dry chillies, “Kharpchay”, dry-mushroom, “Doma” packets are seen packed in plastic containers.

    How can we use the plastic bags without giving harms to our sorroundings and its environment.

  2. Doma Eater

    To contribute in my small way to reduce the usage of plastics is I simply avoid buying the “Doma” packets packed in plastic bags. So likewise, any individuals can do same like me to help solve our plastic garbage problem of our country for the good cause of all of us in our small way of good habits.

  3. Sangay

    Do not ask for plastic bags when buying something. If 100000 plus people do this at least once, then 100000 plastic bags are rejected and imagine if all 700000 plus people do this.

  4. Seeju

    Aren’t these plastic bags and bottles recycle-able ones? It would be good that we individual house-holds are made to collect such plastic bags and bottles from our own individual homes and dispose it to recycle factories like we do collect the B-Mobile used vouchers and dispose it to Telecoms offices every year when they give some bonus to we customers. It is serving the great purpose and we can see no used vouchers any longer.

    We see that some schools are already doing their part in collecting plastic bottles and uses for useful purposes. So it would also be good that if all schools are compulsorily requested to do such good practices to contribute to help to reduce and reuse of plastic garbages in a purposeful means and also save our enviroment without plastic garbages.

  5. Kinzang

    When each and everything comes in plastic packets, how can we help solve this problems. Seems impossible.

  6. Chaychay

    It would be thankful that if the used notebooks of students are also taken care and be collected for recycle. Poeple are just burning out every year end. I heard that in some country even these used notes books are being recycled and can make new note books out of it in paper factories.

  7. tshering

    No solution is a best solution….what is the biggest threat right now..is it the plastic bag or plastic that comes with packaged food…..confused totally…..or can we just not stick to sensitizing people simply by telling them “do not throw your plastic”….

  8. delek

    Why not we bring the old tradition of bringing the thekchung- a carry over bag….this would reduce dependence on plastic bags

  9. tashi choden

    I agree with chachay…please do Sth with papers…as a teacher I see this every year end, after exams are over

  10. It is not only the headache of Shopkeeper about providing plastic bags as and when a customer comes to buy good. It is another responsibility of shopkeeper to offer a carrying bag as it adds something to his/her hospitality. Therefore it is the duty of customer to proper utilize the plastic bags (rather than throwing, why don’t you use in another purpose like keeping things at home, carrying something when you visit neighbors and other relatives, etc.

    Therefore this is my request for you all that ban of plastic has many drawbacks in line of business

  11. tashi choden

    Or change the way we do business…. I agree with Ned I

  12. dorji

    1. it was National Assembly not Cabinet that introduced the ban, after some cows were found dead and post mortem showed plastic bags in the bowels.
    2. As others have said, we did fine before the plastic (petroleum) industry introduced cheap plastic bags, We did our shopping with carry bags etc.
    3. all shops should charge for carry bags.
    4. inspectors should inspect and do their jobs

    5. most important of all. the media like BBS can be a change for good and help with some social causes. educate and run a campaign to reduce pollution and littering. dont just report on the problems, do something about it.
    take a lesson from one of the few good things that NDTV24X7 does like their save tiger campaign (not endorsing on their reporting style which is driven by ratings and commercial interests)
    Don’t charge for panel sessions proposed for social environmental messages.

  13. I think this problem will little bit solved like for eg; if the customers brings their carrying bags when they come for shopping. so that shopkeepers will not purchase plastics hence will not the environment from my point of view.

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