Civic body ban on plastic carries hopes for underprivileged women

Paper bags City organisation targets to sell 50,000 a month as public gets alternative packing option.

The Pune Municipal Corporation decision to ban plastic bags has given an earning option for 200 underprivileged women — they are getting more orders for paper bags. The initiative by United Children’s Welfare Organisation (UCWO), which has trained 200 women and set a sales target of 50,000 bags a month, comes at a time when citizens are left stranded by the sheer absence of any packing option in grocery stores, vegetable kiosks and retail marts, for long dependent on the plastic option.

“It can give livelihood to hundreds of underprivileged women. The bags are made out of newspapers collected from housing societies and we teach them how to make paper bags. These women work from home and we also help them sell these bags,” said United Children Welfare Organisation president Meher Irani.

The organisation is planning to train 3,000 women in the coming months and to provide them a steady income. “If the ban on plastic bags stays, around 50,000 paper bags will be in need each day. This could fetch lakhs of rupees to these women. Also, those women who are trained can pass on the skill to others who wish to learn.”  

He said the organisation would initially support self-help groups with raw material such as old newspapers, gum and other equipment needed to make bags, besides financial assistance. “There are two options for selling these bags. We will buy them from these SHGs in large quantities and will give them the profit or they can sell it on their own.”

The ban decision has led to a standoff between the civic body and the plastic manufacturers. The Association for Promotion of Plastics has urged the civic body to take into consideration the Union and state government regulations on the ban.

The strict implementation of the ban has led traders to oppose the move. All the while, the public is faced with the sheer absence of an alternative option.

To address this issue, the NGO is planning to sell these bags to commercial establishments in and around Pune — at the same time generate revenue to support the education of the underprivileged children, which is its thrust area. “We are aiming around 50,000 bags each month from these groups for the first few months, after which the numbers could increase depending on the efficiency and business they generate.”

The civic body general body had on December 23 passed a resolution banning plastic bags in its jurisdiction. The civic administration had started strictly implementing the ban across the city and fining those selling plastic bags.

From Indian Express

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