Eco-Friendly Bags Distributed At The Centenary Farmer’s Market In Bhutan To Kickstart Plastic Ban
To encourage the use of eco-friendly carry bags, the PCAL will distribute 10,000 such bags across the country.
By Phub Dem | Kuensel
In response to the feedback received concerning the lack of alternatives to the limited plastic ban, the National Environment Commission Secretariat (NECS) distributed 3,000 eco-friendly bags to customers and vendors at the Centenary Farmer’s Market (CMF) in Thimphu on 31 March.
The bags were procured with support from the Penden Cement Authority Limited (PCAL). The bags were distributed at the last minute because the PCAL has confirmed to supply the carry bags only recently.
The Thimphu Thromde, Royal Bhutan Police and CFM officials helped distribute the cloth bags to customers and vendors. The reinforcement of the plastic ban started on 1 April.
Plans to distribute eco-friendly carry bags in Bhutan
To encourage the use of eco-friendly carry bags as substitutes, the PCAL will distribute 10,000 eco-friendly carry bags across the country.
“We will try to cover as much area as we can to advocate the users and sellers.”
A regular customer at the CMF, Lhab Gyeltshen, said that providing eco-friendly bags would help people understand about the alternatives. However, he said that the NEC and other implementing agencies should monitor the ban more seriously.
“Previous bans failed due to poor monitoring and we cannot afford to fail this time.”
Some other customers said they were happy with the awareness programme and would reduce their use of plastic bags. They promised to create awareness, curb the use of plastic bags and bring their own carry bags.
What some vendors feel about the ban on plastics
While the customers appear contented with the carry bags, the vendors are dissatisfied with the decision. They are still not clear about the alternatives for plastic that are used to package certain vegetables, fruits and cereals.
A fruit vendor said that although she did not have to buy plastic to wrap the fruits, she was not very clear on an alternative.
“We are doing business here and we believe in providing good customer services; we just cannot say no to our customers if they ask for it.”
Although officials from the NEC make their clarifications on the ban on doma (areca nut) wrapper, doma sellers like Aum Singye Dema is still wondering how she can wrap her doma without plastic. If the NEC is able to provide the doma sellers with a feasible alternative, she is willing to buy it.
However, she is still reluctant to use papers to wrap doma, citing that papers are delicate and unclean.
“I don’t know how to wrap doma quid and I have many plastic wrappers in stock.”
The ban reinforcement, however, applies only to plastic carry bags and wrappers.
The NEC has issued an infringement notice to the implementing agencies across the nation. The notice authorises the implementing agencies to impose fines and penalties on offenders.
Any business establishment found selling or using plastic bags will be levied Nu 500 for the first offence and Nu 1,000 for the second offence. And for a third violation, business licenses will be cancelled.
The plastic ban was first initiated in 1999 by the then Ministry of Trade and Industry. The NEC is reinforcing the ban this time to strengthen coordination and awareness among implementing agencies and the public.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.