With cloth and paper bags, New Town market goes plastic-free

KOLKATA: New Town's CB block community market, which used to produce nearly 170kg of single-use plastic every month, has successfully become a plastic-free market following a project taken up by an NGO in collaboration with NKDA. Only cloth and paper bags supplied by self-help groups to vendors are used to sell items in the market.
Officials of Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage (KSCH), one of the NGOs entrusted by NKDA which has been implementing the plastic-free market campaign in the market, said they had started the project to turn the market plastic-free within about two years, but the project achieved success in the first three months. "Theproject will continue till the end of this year," said KSCH founder director Sourav Mukherjee.


The pilot project - which included introducing plastic-alternative carry bags among shopkeepers within CB community market premises and vendors in and around the market - involved 29 shopkeepers along with 14 street vendors. Over 2,300 residential families in and around the market have stopped using plastic bags and switched to cloth bags which were distributed to them. "Over 2,000kg of single-use plastic has been reduced within the span of one year from April 2022 to March 31, 2023," Mukherjee said.

"Self-help group members are producing cloth bags and brown paper packets and are selling them directly to the shopkeepers. They are getting the payment directly from them. There are also plans to set up counters in other markets in New Town to distribute biodegradable plastic and cloth bags with the help of CSR funding under the guidance and supervision of NKDA," said a KSCH official.
NKDA officials said they have been working on several plastic free initiatives and are intensifying their campaign for people to completely discard plastic bags.

"Recently, Concern for Kolkata, an NGO, distributed cloth bags for free in one of the NKDA markets. Many NGOs are approaching us to introduce alternatives. The discarded plastic chokes the drainage lines. POS machines are being used to collect fines from plastic ban violators. The recently formed block coordinators have also been sensitised to see that the plastic ban is properly enforced," said a senior NKDA official.

The price of a biodegradable plastic bag ranges from Rs 2 to Rs 3 each. Cloth bags are available for about Rs 15 to Rs 20, officials said.

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