Rlys undecided on what to replace plastic with

Deccan Chronicle.  | Peter Anil Mathew

Nation, Current Affairs

Centre ban kicks in next week.

Plastic waste in the drain at Thiruvananthapuram Central railway station.

Thiruvananthapuram: With a week left for implementing the Centre’s guidelines on banning single use plastic, the railway authorities and vendors at the central railway station here are keeping their fingers crossed.

The railway authorities are exploring the materials that would replace plastic in the post ban period. At the meeting and exhibition held here the other day on the sustainable replacement of plastic, a private firm Yash Papers exhibited fully compostable tableware. The company has invited more discussions on the material with the IRCTC.

With the cost factor yet to be sorted out, sources said IRCTC has not yet reached any decision on what material would replace single use plastic in trains and railway stations. Therefore the transition is going to be difficult.

“Any product with lesser price will be considered” said S. Sunil Kumar, the station manager of the Thiruvananthapuram Central railway station. There is still confusion as to who will bear the additional cost involved in material that will replace plastic; the railways, vendors or the public.

The railway officials express doubts whether the IRCTC will be able to take a decision before the scheduled date of October 2. Besides, there is also uncertainty about the supply of material and the production by private layers.

“Since the material is to be supplied by a private company they can increase or decrease the production price. This is what is preventing the IRCTC from taking a speedy decision as it wants to retain the current price range fixed by railways,” said an official.

The railway is open to considering more options especially the cheaper ones. As of now only one company has come forward and they expect more firms to evince interest in the project.

A cross section of vendors said that they would be able to use whatever the railways permit.  We are responsible to implement their directions,” said Shivaraj, a vendor who doesn’t use plastic bags or cups at the station.

The vendors are bit worried about their business once ban comes into effect from October 2. Majority of the goods that they sell come in plastic packets and they fear it might cause problems.

“We are the only pulp-to-product unit and we look forward to fulfilling the requirements of Indian Railways regarding Bangasse tableware," said Anurag Saroha, a functionary of private firm CHUK. The compostable tableware made out of sugarcane once the juice has been extracted from it.