India's capitol city will soon have a one of the most extensive bans on plastic products out there. How well it will be enforced, it being India, is a huge unknown.
Huffington Post reports that the ban will apply to "the manufacture and sale of all types of plastic sheets and bags, [including] shopping bags, garbage bags and all kinds of plastic film and storage packets. Only plastic bags required for medical waste will be exempt."Back in 2009, plastic shopping bags were banned, but the rule is largely flouted.
We've covered the problems with the ubiquity of disposable plastic products so many times there's little need to rehash them, but in the case of India the problem of plastic litter rises to huge proportions and with immediately visible implications.
Whereas in many cities the issue of animals choking on plastic litter is something removed from daily life, in many places in India (parts of Delhi included) farm animals roam comparatively free, often ingesting plastic bags as they forage for food amongst the city's refuse.
Plastic litter is a scourge on the nation, a persistent problem that will only be solved through a combination of improved sanitation, social education on litter similar to what took place in the mid 20th century in the US, and bans such as this.
One final note on how the ban is constructed: The exemption for plastic bags used to hold medical waste shows an important nuance in the plastic ban discussion. It highlights the important point that plastic itself isn't the problem. For some uses it's literally life-saving. But the trouble is that on the whole we've taken something that in an ideal eco-aware world should be used sparingly, only in those applications where there really isn't some biodegradable or reusable option, and never in everyday single-use applications.