This article originally appeared on VICE India.
The Indian Railways are a force to reckon with, responsible for helping millions of people across the country transit through their daily timetables. But considering the volume of visitors that use trains to travel in India, it also leads to a lot of waste being generated, with people often using the railway platform as their personal trashcan. So, to keep the environment around on track, the Indian Railway authorities have decided to ban single-use plastics on all trains and at every railway station in India, starting Oct. 2.
On Aug. 21, a day after the Indian Parliament passed a similar ban within its complex, the Railway Board, responsible for the nation’s largest transporter, declared that they too would do the same on all railway premises. To kick things off, they will be installing about 1,853 plastic water bottle crushing machines at 360 major stations, and instructing the catering staff to collect all used plastic bottles so they can be recycled. Railway employees, including the vendors who sell their wares to people waiting to board their train, have strictly been asked to stop using plastic.
A statement issued by the Railway Board said that the Indian Railways, which identifies as a 'Waste Generator’, will now follow a system of plastic waste management and stick to the rules, taking steps to reduce, reuse, recycle and replenish resources through eco-friendly methods of disposal.
Earlier this week, San Francisco International Airport took a similar initiative asking for plastic bottles to stop being sold at the airport so as to create less of a mess. While such orders are promisingly positive, making sure they are properly implemented is the real task to tackle. The Maharashtra government tried to pull off something similar last year, banning all single-use plastic products like straws and polythene bags. However, right from delivery services to your local coffee shop, it seems as if the implementation of the order has been short-lived, with most of us going back to our plastic habits.
And considering we're a country struggling to deal with our plastic mess (we produce 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste a day, out of which 10,000 tonnes remains uncollected), it’s time we collectively step up.
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