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A 50 micron plastic carry bag, copyright Picturejockey : Navin Harish 2005-2009
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50 Microns

16th January 2009

After the floods on 26th July in 2005, the government banned plastic bags below 50 microns. Plastic bags made from 50 microns or higher are only allowed to be used in Bombay and there is a statutory requirement to write the details about microns, the recycling status and the name of the manufacturer along with other details. This is a 50 micron bag made from virgin plastic which means it is good to carry food. There are other recycled plastic bags that are nut suitable for food and are used by places like hardware stores, the wine shops etc. What I am not able to understand is how a 50 micron plastic bag is less damaging to the environment than a thinner one. On the contrary you are wasting more plastic and in turn churning out more pollutants by insisting on 50 microns bags. This thing doesn't stop here. The other day I went to my local grocer who opened a packet of plastic bags in front of my and it clearly said the plastic bags were of the required 50 microns but when I held the bag, it was as thin as an onion peel.

The grocer smiled and told me that the cover only says it is 50 microns. Expectedly the statutory details were missing from the bag. Who wants to be sending out incriminating evidences like that?

Ever since the “green” thing and the environment thing have become popular, a lot of companies are making a fool out of people in the name of “social responsibility”. For example the Pantaloons retails run Food Bazaar was offering some incentive for handing them over their old plastic bags but at the same time they keep using as many bags as possible to pack the things you shop for. The reason is clear - advertising. Indians on their own waste a lot less than a lot of other countries and we believe in recycling our plastic bags. We use the old shopping bags for carrying other stuff and even for our garbage. The more bags that you send out there, the more your brand will be seen. The add a further bonus; you have an incentive that will see people collecting your bags. The real question is what do you do once you get your old plastic bags? Do you use them again in the shop or do you send them for recycling or just throw them away.

If a store is really concerned about environment, they will offer an incentive for not taking the plastic bags instead of returning them. “Bring your own bags and save 2 bucks on every plastic bag you don't use.”

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