From June 2018, Maharashtra government enforced the plastic ban in the state thereby banning use of plastic and thermocol products for manufacturers, distributors, businessmen and consumers. The government has given the stakeholders a period of three months to dispose their existing stock and come with alternatives to plastic usage. While the move to ban plastic is right keeping in mind the environmental damage caused due to plastic use, the ban has made life miserable for many businessmen so much so, that one of the plastic traders from Nagpur even committed suicide a few days back due to the ban. One of the worst hit industries by the plastic ban is the food industry, which has traditionally being using plastic to pack and deliver food items. Nation Next spoke to some well-known restaurateurs of Nagpur to know how plastic ban has affected their respective businesses and also tries to know their opinion on the same.
Prasanna Reddy, Owner, Gokul Brindavan
Problems post plastic ban: Our parcel delivery time, which was normally one-and-a-half minute has doubled as we don’t have many alternatives to plastic. The containers we use for packing solid food items like Idli, Wada or Dosa are still the same but we are facing a big problem when it comes to packing liquid food items Sambar and Chutney.
Search for alternatives: We’re using paper containers but those containers aren’t very durable. If we start using steel containers, it will increase the product cost by Rs 40, which won’t be acceptable to our customers. If government doesn’t provide an alternative for plastic soon, we’ll have to use steel containers against our will.
Effects of ban: In spite of using paper containers, our prices are still the same but, we will have to increase the prices if we start using steel. Also, because of lack of alternatives, our takeaways have reduced by 20% and there’s also a drop in our customer base.
Opinion on plastic ban: Personally, I support the plastic ban but I feel that the government should have provided alternatives before banning use of plastic all of a sudden. As for our customers, 80% of them seem to be supporting the ban and 20% are grumpy about it.
Ranjan Kale, Owner, Fionaa Lounge and Restaurant, Café Zinea and Czaar
Problems post plastic ban: We can’t find any better alternative for plastic. We have started using paper bags but we have received customer complaints regarding the packaging of food. We’re facing a loss of about 40% in costing due to use of paper bags but the ban has caused no effect on the volume of customers.
Search for alternatives: Packing of solid food items is not a problem but packing liquid food items like shakes or coffee is a big problem.
Effects of ban: Usage of paper boxes cost us around Rs 12. We’re thinking of increasing the prices accordingly but I’m unsure about the customer response to it. We have decided to directly debit the price of the containers in the customers’ bill instead of increasing the rates of food items.
Opinion on plastic ban: Plastic ban is a good initiative by the government but proper alternatives should be provided. As per my assessment, 60% of my customers support plastic ban but 40% are against it.
Rahul Modi, Owner, Fuel Headquarters
Problems post plastic ban: Plastic ban did not have any adverse effect on the volume of customers visiting our restaurant but it has certainly reduced the volume of food deliveries as we do not have proper containers for the delivery.
Search for alternatives: Prior to the ban, plastic glasses were used by us for serving and delivering shakes and other liquid items but now, paper glasses are being used for the same. These paper glasses, however, do not have lids. Also, because the paper containers are not durable, they often damage the presentation of our shakes, despite our best efforts.
Effects of ban: We haven’t increased the prices of our products in spite of using costly paper containers and because of that our profit margin has reduced to a huge extent. We’ve never taken parcel charges from our customers and if we suddenly ask for the same, they won’t be happy.
Opinion on plastic ban: I support the plastic ban; it has its pros and cons. On one hand if businessmen like me are incurring losses, on the other hand, the ban will ensure conservation of environment. Our customers are supporting the ban. We might be facing problems right now but I’m sure things will be better soon once there are proper alternatives for plastic.
Vinit Arora, Pape’s Juice Corner
Problems post plastic ban: We are facing no loss when it comes to counter customers, but packaging of juices and shakes for takeaways have caused us a lot of problems. It is only possible for us to give delivery of our products if customers bring their own containers. We’re facing a direct loss of around 15% as we have stopped using plastic.
Search for alternatives: We use paper containers as an alternative at times but they cannot sustain the liquid item for more than 15 minutes. The paper containers becomes soft, thus spoiling the juice. For now, we’re using water bottles to serve the juices, and we’re using paper straws instead of plastic ones. We have already informed the people who come to buy juice for the patients to bring their own steel or glass containers. The ones who come without their own containers have to return empty handed.
Effects of ban: The plastic glass we would use prior to the ban would cost us just 15 paise whereas using paper containers cost us Rs 2 now. For now, we haven’t increased the rates, but we’ll increase them soon. In case, we decide to use heavy glass containers, we’ll have to increase rates accordingly.
Opinion on plastic ban: I do support the ban even as I’m facing 10% direct business loss. The ban is for the greater good. Most of our customers do support the ban, but still, few of them demand disposable glasses.
D P Sabharwal, Caterer and Owner of Moksh Restro Lounge
Problems post plastic ban: Because of lack of alternatives, we’re facing a huge loss in our business. In cities like Mumbai, Pune, etc., people have been using other alternatives like coconut fibres but there’s no material available in Nagpur market to replace plastic items. We’re facing a loss of around 30% in terms of both parcels and customers.
Search for alternatives: We’re ordering paper cups from Mumbai made out of the same material used for making the cups of CCD (Café Coffee Day) and we also plan to procure dry leaves from Kerala.
Effects of ban: The alternatives cost us double than the normal rates but it wouldn’t be fair to our customers to increase the rates of food items as well.
Opinion on plastic ban: I don’t support the ban. Government should’ve thought of alternatives before taking such a big step, which has caused a lot of trouble not just to us but to our customers as well.