New Delhi: Indore, India’s cleanest city for three consecutive years as per Swachh Survekshan, has come up with yet another innovative and one of a kind initiative to phase out the use of single-use plastic carry bags. Waging a war against single-use plastic, Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) has established ‘Thaila (Bag) Bank’. As the name suggests, the bank provides reusable cloth bags and paper bags, alternatives to single-use plastic bags, at a minimal price. Speaking to NDTV, Asad Warsi, advisor to IMC shared the details of the project and said,
On August 15, in his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a clarion call of making the country free of single-use plastic. Later when he reinstated the message in his Mann Ki Baat and on October 2 – Rashtiya Swachhta Diwas, we commenced five thaila banks in four major fruit and vegetable markets in the city and at Palasia Chauraha (square). The major reason behind coming up with something like bag bank is whenever we urge people or carry out awareness drives, asking people to not use plastic, we get two questions – what are the alternatives and how expensive are these?
To answer these two questions, thaila bank providing paper and cloth bags, in varied sizes came into existence. For the production of the bags and promotion of the campaign, IMC has joined hands with 1600 schools, four social enterprise organisations working in the field of waste management, and self-help groups (SHGs). Elaborating on the same, Mr Warsi says,
We have requested management to teach students the importance of eliminating single-use plastic like plastic carry bags and how to make paper bags. For mass participation and encourage students, we have requested the administration to give them marks. With the involvement of school students, IMC receives 50,000-60,000 paper bags weekly.
Usually, paper bags are fragile but students have come up with innovative ways to make them sturdy and durable. Taking inspiration from cane furniture, one of the students rolled paper sheets, knitted and weaved it into paper bags of different sizes. For cloth bags, students are meant to bring old clothes and donate them to SHGs for them to recycle these into cloth bags.
Anyone and everyone can buy any of these bags from our thaila bank. Obviously, after using the cloth bag for say dozen of times, it will get dirty. One can either wash and reuse it or simply drop it at one of the banks and avail 50 per cent discount on another bag. Though these bags are affordable; paper bags are priced at 50 paise and Rs. 1, cloth bags range between Rs. 1 and Rs. 15, depending on the size; for now, we are providing it to local vendors for free, says Mr Warsi.
Talking about how citizens are being sensitised and motivated to use cloth bags, Jagtap from Basix Municipal Waste Ventures, working with IMC on solid waste management, said,
The city of Indore is divided into 19 zones and we have 10 zones wherein we have been working for the IMC for the last four years. During public awareness campaigns, we tell people that when there was little to no plastic, we would use jhola (cloth bag) only, so why not now?
Jagtap feels that the ban on plastic, effective management of waste in the city and Indore topping the charts in the sector of sanitation and waste management has garnered people’s support and has increased a sense of ownership and responsibility among people. It is evident with cloth vendors donating cloth scraps for the production of bags.
To expand the initiative and take it to every nook and cranny of the city, the IMC has got 100 movable bag banks. Talking about the same, Mr Warsi said,
Pull carts have been given a look of a bag and are then been taken to commercial areas to spread the message and reduce the use of single-use plastic bags.
Indore’s War Against Plastic
Ever since Indore initiated a war against single-use plastic by imposing a ban on it, the IMC has ensured the city has enough alternatives to plastic and ways to treat plastic waste. From introducing ‘Bartan Bank’ in August – where the citizens can borrow traditional vessels and metal utensils to serve food at parties and return later, to initiating plastic waste segregation at source. Not only is this, way before the plastic ban was announced in April 2018, the IMC was treating and converting plastic waste into diesel and plastic pellets, a raw material for any plastic product.
‘Thela Bank’ is an initiative of the IMC to keep up with its fight against single-use plastic and hold its dominance among cities aiming to eradicate the use of single-use plastic.