Cafés cope with plastic ban


Wooden spoons, paper cups and cloth bags replace plastic items in cafes | Deepika Agrawal

Chennai: Café outlets and eateries in Adyar are adapting to the plastic ban implemented by Tamil Nadu government on January 1.

One-time use and throwaway plastics such as plastic sheets for food wrapping, dining table spread, plates, teacups and tumblers, water pouches and packets, straw, carry bags and flags, irrespective of their thickness have been banned. 

Writer’s Cafe in Adyar has introduced paper straws, paper cups and glass bottles. Tamil D, manager of the outlet, said that they had started using carry bags made of tapioca three months back, i.e., before the implementation of the ban.

“Sometimes, customers demand plastic carry bags but we refuse to give it to them. It is our responsibility that plastic does not go out of our restaurant. For example, for soup, we ask the customer to either have it here or bring their own bowl,” he added.

The café did not raise prices in the menu to compensate for the added cost of the raw materials as it claims to be a non-profit restaurant.
Sharadh Chand, franchise owner of the Makers of Milkshakes’ Adyar outlet, said that the company has replaced all plastic items with paper cups, paper straws, wooden spoons and cloth covers.

He added, “It is actually very difficult to cope with the ban as the cost of raw materials has gone up. They would initially purchase plastic bags according to weight but cloth bags cost Rs 250 for 100 pieces.” He said that a plastic cup costs Rs 5 whereas a paper cup costs Rs 6.

“This has affected the customer satisfaction because the quantity provided in paper cups is less than that in a plastic cup. But, we have not increased prices of the milkshakes,” Chand said.

He is satisfied that the environmental cause of the plastic ban is being fulfilled. “The compromises do not matter,” he exclaimed.

Nithin, a worker at Ibaco ice cream parlour, Adyar, said that the added cost incurred by the use of paper cups instead of plastic ones is being transferred to the customer because the pricing is according to the net weight of the product.

TN plastic ban evokes mixed reactions

Plastic cups Naresh had bought last year. Now they banned. |M. Naresh

CHENNAI:  A month after the Tamil Nadu Government banned the use of plastic in the State, shop owners are still dealing with teething problems.

“In IT hubs, working people order food for an entire group. And Tamil food predominantly consists of sambar and idli. But such items can’t be carried in paper bags. And aluminium foils are avoided as they are regarded as poisonous by many. Also, it’s not as if people have completely ceased to use plastics. There are many who are using it even now,” says M. Naresh, who runs a shop for decoration and plastics items at Malayaperumal Street, Parrys.

“The users and customers should have been consulted before the implementation of such a scheme.Their opinions must be respected, and their queries resolved. Even though it had been announced in advance, those who run small businesses like selling flowers, and running eateries, can’t afford to plan much in advance,” he says.

Rehman bought this bag from Bangalore. |Sumon Ali

Rehman,44, who runs a shoe shop at M.G. Road, Adyar, says that paper bags are costly.”One polythene bag costs me Re.1. For January I bought paper bags at the rate of Rs.550/kg, which means I had to pay Rs.7 per bag.”

Those who find the move positive regard it as a strategy to protect the environment.

Tilakeshwara,37, who works at a medical shop, says that the plastic ban is a good move as it will increase awareness.”People will be encouraged to carry their own bags instead of taking plastic bags from stores,” he says.

Deepak Motwani, 31, owns a clothes shop in Adyar. He says “I have bought paper bags in three varieties. The small one comes at the price of Rs 7, medium at Rs 11 and large one at Rs 15. So definitely there has been an impact, but the intention is good as the environment must not be polluted by plastics. So I support it.” He says that he got the bags from Royapettah.

Disabled people supported by the Andhra Mahila Sabha made these bags. |Sumon Ali

Venkat Chalam,44, Store Manager at Terra Earthfood Store,Kasturba Nagar,Adyar, has been using cloth bags for the past 5 years. “The small bag can carry 1 kg and costs Rs. 5, while the large one has a capacity of 5 kg and costs Rs.9. It is made from recycled newspapers. Disabled people supported by the Andhra Mahila Sabha make it.”

Buckingham Canal: Complaints go unheard


Chennai's largest Canal has been in an extreme poor condition for years causing foul smell and diseases.
The Buckingham Canal at Indira Nagar | Manjiri Chitre

CHENNAI: The city’s largest Canal, the Buckingham Canal, has been in an extreme poor condition for years. Residents of Indira Nagar have complained about the foul smell, and mosquito breeding, which has led to an increase in diseases.

The Buckingham Canal connects three rivers that cut across Chennai. These are the Kosathalaiyar River in the North, Cooum River in the Central Zone, and Adyar River in the South. The canal was primarily constructed as a navigation channel, although is mainly used for managing flood water, and ensuring tidal balance.

During the 2015 floods, the Buckingham Canal’s water had overflowed and destroyed houses nearby. “When the canal had overflowed during the floods, our entire house was destroyed with the filthy water from the canal,” said Suvarna P, who lives opposite to the Canal. She added that the street was stinking.

Residents opposite the canal have complained about the foul smell and mosquito breeding to the Corporation. However, there has been no response, they said.  

Behind the Indira Nagar Railway Station is controlled by the Railway authorities, except for the Canal. The authorities have refused to look into the matter. “We are not concerned with the Canal as it does not come under our jurisdiction. The State Government is responsible for the cleaning. Although, it has remained dirty for a long time,” said a Senior Railway Official, who wished to remain anonymous.

A Senior Corporation Officer who does not wish to be disclosed said, “We are only responsible for the de-silting of the canal. Otherwise, the Public Works Departments (PWD) is responsible for looking after the Canal.” The PWD officials were unavailable for a comment.