All disposable plastic has been banned in Mumbai – a city of 21 million people – and the Indian state it is part of.
State authorities in Maharashtra – which has nearly twice the population of the UK – say they are responding to a major pollution problem.
The legislation kicked in at the weekend, and also includes a ban on plastic bags and products made out of polystyrene.
Disposable cups, plates, spoons, forks, glasses and containers are among the items prohibited along with other single-use items and plastic packaging used to wrap and store products.
Plastic bottles of less than 500ml have been exempted but a deposit is payable and a buy-back scheme has been put in place.
Anyone in the state found breaking the rules can be fined up to 25,000 rupees (£276) or face three months in prison.
Sky News, which has been campaigning to protect the world’s oceans from the damaging effects of single-use plastics, has previously highlighted concern about the amount of plastic being dumped in the city.
In January, volunteers removed nearly 12,000 tons of plastic from a short stretch of Mumbai beach.
But other parts of the city, which is notorious for its slum areas, have remained littered with waste.
Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi labelled plastic a “menace to humanity” in a speech calling for a crackdown, as he pledged India would aim for a sustainable future.
McDonald’s and Starbucks were among dozens of companies hit with fines across Maharashtra at the weekend because of the use of plastic, a government official said.
McDonald’s franchise owner Hardcastle Restaurants has been giving customers wooden cutlery, paper cups and biodegradable straws but it is understood the fines were due to the use of plastic in its deliveries – something it is working on, according to Bioplasticsnews.com.
Other Indian states, including Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, have already introduced similar plastic bans.
Indian officials and environmentalists have estimated the Indian capital, New Delhi, and its surrounding cities produce an estimated 17,000 tons of rubbish daily.
So far, Delhi has only banned thin plastic bags, but the prohibition only comes with a fine of 5,000 rupees (£56) and is reportedly widely flouted.
The politician who promoted the ban said the move was his state’s part of combating a global problem.
Aaditya Thackeray, who is leader of the youth wing of a minor Hindu nationalist party in coalition with the BJP in Maharashtra, said on Twitter: “I humbly request all the citizens, colleagues, all sectors of the government & industry, media, all political and social organisations to help us implement this ban on single use disposable plastic, as it is for everybody.
“These items are a global issue now and we have taken a step to combat it, better our planet.
“Not all plastic is bad, but the bad plastic has been largely dumped everywhere and we have to clean it up, for a better today and tomorrow.”
There are reports of confusion on the streets of the vast, sprawling megacity, where an army of inspectors are on patrol to locate offenders.
While it has been welcomed by environmentalists, plastic manufacturers fear the introduction of the ban will hit jobs and the industry’s ability to compete.
Vice-president of the state’s chamber of commerce, Lalit Gandhi, said: “Many units are on the verge of closure in the absence of basic packing materials and we fear [300,000] employed there may become jobless.”
:: Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com
From – SkyNews