Pune The permission of using 50 micron polythene, low density bags have rekindled a flickering hope for plastic traders in the city. July 7 marked 15 days since the Maharashtra government implemented a fine of Rs 5,000 for being in possession of plastic bags.

While the 50-micron bags are conditionally accepted under the ban, the local players are taking their time to warm up to it even as the plastic traders remain hopeful.

Traders in Pune who make a living by selling plastic goods in wholesale and retail had faced severe loss in business after the ban. After the penalty for use of plastic was levied, the shopkeepers had to get rid of most of their merchandise.

Local shops are currently bereft of all sizes of plastic bags, plates, spoons, bowls, straws, sheets, gloves, caps, among others things. The main customers of these shops are general store owners, small business owners and restaurant owners among others.

“Our customers are afraid of buying the 50 micron bags. They do not believe it is does not come under the ban due to the heavy fee levied by the government,” said Hasmukh Shah, 32, who owns Arihant Plastic Goods in Bohri Ali, Ravivar Peth area of Pune. Shah used to sell several kilogrammes of plastic material, mostly bags, in a day at the rate of Rs 150-160 per kg.

Under the July 2 notification, the state government provided relief to the local general store owners as it allowed conditional use of 50-micron plastic bags. The bags will have to be 50-micron thick, weigh 2 gram and have the stamp of the manufacturer of the bag.

Referring to these conditions, Suresh Jagtap, head of the garbage department at Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) said, “Certain terms are in place to use the 50 micron plastic products. It won’t be right to say outrightly that they are accepted (under the purview of the ban).”

“This plastic is much more thicker than the normal plastic bags that we use. We had 85 different sizes of plastic bags and pouches besides the custom-made orders. If we sold the earlier material at say Rs 130/kg, the new material will be Rs 160/kg. It is expensive for us to buy as well,” said Rasik Prajapati, who runs one of the two Good Luck Plastic Goods store in Pangul Ali lane of Ganesh Peth in Pune.

Prajapati said that various sizes of bags were put on sale but customers did not buy the 50-micron bag, when pitched. The ones who saw the product out of curiosity were not convinced and left.

“We have suffered a loss of Rs 5,000 one time. Now we simply do not sell plastic bags. We sell paper bags but the sale is not as good as plastic as paper is not durable for packaging,” said a man in his 60s, working at Gadiya Plastic Traders in Nana Peth area of Pune.

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