Plastic ban kicks off in Phuentsholing

The Phuentsholing Thromde has started sensitizing people and restricting the entry of plastics

The Phuentsholing Thromde has started restricting the entry of plastics particularly used as carry bags by people at the border gate in Phuentsholing starting from March 1.

The initiative is in preparation to the ban on plastics that would be officially effective from April 1. The Thromde has employed around 20 youths for a month at four entry points to inspect the entry of plastics. The youths inspect and seize plastics, besides creating awareness on the ban.

Phuentsholing Thromde Environment Officer, Lhendup, said the inspection would inform the people on the ban.

“Creating early awareness would be easy for implementing the ban practically,” he said, adding that the National Environment Commission (NEC) has notified all the Thromdes and the dzongkhags to restrict the entry of plastics from March 1.

Meanwhile, no penalties have been imposed so far. Penalties would be imposed to businesses and shop owners selling goods in plastic carry bags after April. An offender will be penalized Nu 500 for the first time and Nu 1,000 for the second time. The third offence would result in the cancellation of the license.

“We are sensitizing people and restricting the entry of plastics,” Lhendup said.

 Meanwhile, plastics that are presently collected are then supplied for recycling to the College of Science and Technology at Rinchending. The Thromde collects around plastics worth a Bolero pick up per day. So far, plastics worth around four Boleros have been collected within a week.

 However, the amount of plastics used is decreasing daily, according to a youth inspecting plastics at the gate, Pema Dorji.

“Initially the entry of plastic in the form of carry bags was huge, but now gradually, it’s decreasing,” he said.

Meanwhile, the main pedestrian entry gate has been collecting around eight bags weighing around 15 kilograms of plastics per day till now.

However, plastics are still being used for packaging dried foods at the stalls of vegetable market. Also, vendors are using the remaining plastic carry bags to carry vegetables for the customers. But a few others have also started using alternatives.

“We have started arranging alternatives by ourselves. Without alternatives from the government, we have started using bio-degradable carry bags,” a vegetable vendor at the market said.

  Meanwhile, the ban on plastic use will be reinforced from April this year; 20 years after the first notification. The NEC issued a notice on the ban on January 14 this year.

  The restriction on plastics, meanwhile, has also been getting mixed responses from the people when their plastic carry bags are being seized.

“While some appreciate the initiative, others still react harshly to us,” said Kinga Tenzin, another youth inspector at the gate.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing