Change begins from home and in case of government’s implemented rules, it starts with government offices. In lieu of taking a step towards eliminating single-use plastic cutlery, the Municipal Corporation of the City has made some changes not only in government offices but in food joints and private functions as well. Instead of plastic, copper ‘Lotas’, copper bottles, steel and metal utensils will be used.

Earlier this year, Indore earned the title of India’s cleanest city for the third time and now, to ensure dedicated good work, it is now adhering to India’s former traditional vessels. For instance- Copper bottles and lotas, steel, and glass.

Asad Warsi, Indore Municipal Corporation’s advisor for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan says that more than 90 percent of the litter in the city consists of single-use plastics, that are difficult to collect, clog drainage systems and pose a big threat to the environment due to being non-biodegradable. He talked about how it is our onus to keep the cleanest city of the country bin-free, litter-free and dust-free and in order to ensure better results, a strict ban has been enforced, confiscating tonnes of plastic bags from distributors, dealers and shops, and fining violators amounts ranging from Rs 500 up to 12 lakh!

Furthermore, awareness drives were conducted by the corporation in its most popular markets-  Sarafa bazaar, 56 Dukaan and Meghdoot Gardens where it laid emphasis on the need for elimination of single-use plastic cutlery and become zero-waste.

Warsi talked about how they chose a simple approach for effective results. The corporation met the association of food joint owners and explained to them the logic and reasoning behind it which was, many of them spent close to Rs 2000 per day behind plastic cutlery which costs Rs 60,000 a month and almost a whopping 7 lakh a year! Instead, if they invested in steel, glass or melamine plates and cutlery, they would be cutting these costs down to 2.5 lakh, which, in turn, will be an eco-friendly switch and at the same time, a durable alternative.

He also addressed the reason why these eateries used single-use plastic for hygiene and as a solution for this,  the corporation has identified three CSR partners who will set up dishwashers in these markets, collect this cutlery, sanitize them and return it twice a day at a minimal service fee basis, which, in turn, will ensure a continuous supply of clean utensils and at the same time, save water as well.

It might interest some to know that the dishwashers use only 20 percent of water when compared to a running tap.

In order to facilitate this change to larger community, the corporation has also set up two zonal Bartan (utensil) Banks in the city, where metal utensils are provided free-of-cost to the citizens for use at any get-togethers or functions.

Warsi talks about how the idea is not only to enforce bans but provide cost-effective solutions that people can readily accept, and that is how the concept of Bartan Banks came about.

So, these Bartan Banks are quite feasible in terms of their service. With a stock of more than 3,000 sets of utensils/cutlery which includes plates, bowls, glasses, spoon, etc. are made available to the people so that anybody in need of cutlery for occasions can go to the bank and issue these utensils as per their requirements with prior notice of 24 hours which is completely free of cost. Once used, these utensils have to be cleaned and deposited back at the bank. In case a utensil is damaged or lost, the person issuing it will be charged to recover the loss.

Warsi says that more than 200 people have used the service and that whether it is birthdays,  school annual functions, religious celebrations—many citizens have come forward to support the initiative. Warsi further claims that the exceptional response just not restricted to the city but other zones, as well as people from other zones, have requested for facility be set up in their areas as soon as possible.

Warsi also shared some of the feedback of the citizens who avail of this service. One of them being –

Just as the change begins from home, Warsi adds how the corporation is also banning disposable plastic water bottles, spoons, forks, glasses, and plates from all of its government offices. It now ensures that in its offices, water is served in a copper ‘lota’ or steel or glass cups or tumblers and its snacks are served in metal, glass or melamine plates.  All the hierarchy of people is given a bottle of copper for personal use as well.

single use plastic- IndoreHD

Warsi claims that with the move,  5,000-6,000 plastic bottles and 10,000 disposables cups and cutlery per day from government offices will be removed.

Indore generates about 100 tonnes of plastic waste per day. The initiative  will help “the city reduce plastic waste by two tonnes a day until Oct 2nd and by 10 tonnes by December 2019.”

We hope many more cities and government offices can take a leaf out of Indore’s book, say NO to single-use plastic, and say YES to eco-friendly alternatives!



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