Monday, February 15, 2016

The Plastic Carry Bag and related ban in Bangalore - Impact on restaurants

Over the last few weeks, several localities in Bangalore have started banning plastic carry bags. The BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Municipal Palike) has been setting up meetings with retailers and food businesses advising them of the ban. It looks like the ban will come into full effect from Feb 27, 2015. How will this impact the restaurant business?

Businesses with an active take-away and home delivery business:
1) You will have to start using woven cloth-like bags. These cost almost the same as the plastic carry bags and all the packaging vendors have started stocking these.

Through some research into these woven cloth-like bags I learnt that even these bags contain plastic.There are 2 variants of these bags - Virgin and Non-Virgin. The Non-virgin ones are the cheaper option and contain plastic. The virgin ones are made with cloth and are more expensive. I don't expect BBMP to enforce this differentiation atleast in the short run.

A question: Banning plastic bags should really mean banning several products available in gorcery stores like rice, dal, biscuits etc. I assume the BBMP crack-down is focused on only the carry bags to carry all the other stuff that anyway come in plastic bags. While any reduction in plastic is a welcome move, for real impact, the government needs to go to the heart of the plastic consumption zone - the FMCG companies. Guess that will have to wait for now.  

2) Plastic & Aluminium Foil containers -  These are the containers in which is actually packed by the restaurants. These can be used for now.

3) Pouches - Plastic and aluminium: These are the small thin plastic and silver foil pouches in which restaurants pack side dishes (sambar, chutney etc.), condiments etc. Several restaurants use these to pack the actual food too (e.g. Biryanis). All of these can no longer be used. This will probably be the biggest impact to restaurant and food businesses.  The pouches are cheap, very convenient to pack and are leak proof when tied with a thread or rubber band. Plastic container alternatives to these are expensive (over Rs.2 per container) and are prone to leaks. There are thicker aluminium foil pouches too available which can be used, but these again are expensive. To put this in perspective, bakeries will no longer be able to pack bread in the transparent plastic foils. Not sure how practical the enforcement of this can be.

4) Cling wrap and aluminium foil:
Plastic cling wraps can no longer be used. Aluminium foil rolls can be used. Plastic cling wraps are the cheapest and easiest way to cover food containers. Without these, the cost of using aluminium foil will be prohibitive. Every restaurant uses cling wraps extensively to store pre-cooked ingredients and pre-processed foods. These are used only in the kitchen so may not catch the attention of the BBMP officials when they come to inspect. But technically, usage of any of these will make business liable to pay fines and even have their licenses canceled for non-compliance.

While reducing plastic usage is a good thing, I feel that the BBMP is taking a measure that significantly affects small & local retail businesses, but ignores the larger problem of FMCGs and large companies using plastic extensively. Infact without the simple plastic bags, small retailers will find it difficult to sell loose products (e.g. rice, sugar etc.) which are cheaper for the consumers and the margins are better for the retailer. They will now have to sell branded pre-packaged products which anyway come in plastic bags (except that they look nicer and have branding on them).

For the restaurant business, this will be a pain to deal with. The biggest pain will be felt by the street food vendors and low cost food joints who extensively use the low cost pouches. For others, not being able to use cling wrap in the kitchen will be an operational problem. They will slowly have to get used to container with lids. 


  1. I generally support plastic free Bangalore but I can't see any big changes going to happen. While all the residents and the restaurants purchasing dairy products which is very much daily basis essentials in larger volumes like(curds,milk)and ghee in some restaurant cases all comes in 500ml/1000ml plastic pouches in larger volumes them how does the BBMP garbage collection team collect those pouches while they strictly prohibited to use those black plastic garbage bags which is been general used.does this law is going to be applied to all dairy products companies with immedite effect?

  2. It is good to ban the plastic covers used for packing food items as it is very dangerous to pack hot food items in non-food grade plastics.

  3. Welcome move. As research says, plastic is main cause of Cancer when contacted with food in warm or cold condition and main cause of pollution.
    Back to few years, How people used to get parcels from hotels? People used to carry their own steel containers to hotels for tea/coffee and food parcels. Lets start the same good old practice. This will go long way to reduce pollution and healthy solution also. It's just people have to change their mentality and adopt good practices.
    If you plastic industries and hotels provide easy packing and carrying option to people, people will be lazy and go for easy option.
    Change is inevitable at this moment. Welcome and practice it.

  4. what is the safest way to pack sambar for idli. so it can be heated later on (after 2/3 hrs from making it) in the microwave oven. is it plastic bag? or aluminium pouch? or something else you suggest which is cost effective and safe and which makes sealing and transportation of sambar easy for the traveler / carrier.

  5. Really great job it is to good. I am sure customer get big smile on there face after getting those food delivery backpack

  6. Plastic banned in Maharashtra is great step by the Maharashtra Government. Same situation arise for the hospitality industry. Now its our responsibility to start using eco-friendly packaging materials to make this mission successful.

  7. Nowadays the bags made of plastic material have been banned in many states in India. And it is created a lot of fuss, but when you see the environmental benefits, you will be amazed. So it's our duty to stop using plastic carry bags and make a plastic free India. Non woven bags are the most environmentally friendly and the most versatile and practical bags in the marketplace today. We can use these bags in place of plastic bags.

  8. Ban for utilization of Plastic should be done on global level but to done this on smaller level will be a good initiative by the government. Now its our duty to support this effort and try use Paper Bags for Shopping specially in the metro cities.

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  12. Plastic bags are very dangerous for the environment, always use Carton boxes or carton bags for packing products.

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