The ban on plastic bags with a thickness of fewer than 40 microns has come into effect across Nepal today.
The Department of Environment (DoE) issued a public notice last month, threatening legal action if plastic bags of the specified dimensions are produced, imported, traded, or used.
The DoE has said that the production, import, sale, distribution, and use of plastic thinner than 40 microns have been completely banned in order to reduce environmental pollution.
The DoE has warned of stringent actions against those flouting the government’s decision as per the Environment Protection Act, 2019 and the Environmental Protection Rule, 2020.
However, it’s the third time that the federal government announced a complete ban on the production, import, sale, distribution, and use of thinner plastic bags in order to reduce environmental pollution from plastic products. Not only the central government but also the local units have made such announcements. But they all failed to be appropriately implemented. The most recent announcement was made in the fiscal year 78/79 annual budget speech.
Protests from plastic manufacturers and traders against the government’s monitoring and confiscation also helped to keep the plastic ban decision in the papers only.
The deputy director-general of the Department of Environment, Indu Bikram Joshi claims that the control of plastic bags will be stricter this time than in the past. He also stated that much attention should be paid to the production of alternative bags and to replacing the thin plastic bags by changing the behavior of the consumers.
He goes on to say that packaging plastics used to wrap noodles and biscuits is also a problem for the city and that legal arrangements are being made to hold their industry accountable for managing such plastics.
The department has concluded that both merchants and consumers use plastic bags due to a lack of suitable alternatives. Paper, cotton, allo, and jute bags that are good for the environment are not cheap. According to Joshi, consumers who are used to using plastic should start carrying bags from home to the market.