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Maharashtra plastic ban: Steel box is preferred choice for food delivery biz

Maharashtra Government’s decision to ban plastic on Saturday across the state has put small retailers and as well as food delivery restaurant and chains in a fix.

With little options at hand, restaurants and food chains are now replacing plastic containers and polybags with steel lunch boxes.

“The government should have provided us more time to arrange an alternative. Apps like Zomato and Swiggy have stopped working due to the lack of delivery options. Customers are also facing inconvenience”, said a restaurant owner, that chose the steel lunch box route for delivery, in Pune to Entrackr.

Kiran Sethi, President of a Restaurant Association in Pune claims that approximately 5 per cent of restaurants in the city is using steel containers to deliver or pack food.

At present, the delivery services are running in two models.

One is where the food is delivered in a steel box and the customer empties it hand to hand and returns it to the delivery person. Another is where a customer deposits a fixed amount, for instance, Rs 200, to the restaurant in advance, and gets a refund on returning the container within the specified time limit.

For restaurants and food chains, the system of security deposits seems to be the best way of preventing prospective losses due to mishandling or loss of steel boxes.

Meanwhile, the state government is contemplating to withdraw this policy for a few items like retail packaging products including pulses, rice, or sugar. The prerequisite for this leniency is that there has to be a mechanism to collect and recycle the plastic material, said an HT report.

While the plastic industry in Maharashtra has incurred massive losses of around Rs 15,000 crore due the ban, which also left nearly 3 lakh people jobless, the paper companies benefit from this move by becoming the cheapest alternative to plastic.

Notably, while the use of plastic leads to pollution, the use of paper will lead to further deforestation.

In the meantime, this is a great opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to come up with a cost-effective and environment-friendly solution to this problem, which helps the consumers in receiving delivery services as well as the startup in earning a good revenue.

Because, while the steel lunch box solution is constructive as an immediate solution, some people might not want to pay for the deposits, and some might not like empty it hand in hand and return the box immediately.

Earlier, on March 23 this year the state government had announced the plastic ban. On last Saturday, a system of fines has been imposed to implement the ban. Herein at being sighted with plastic in public areas, and markets, a person is liable to pay a fine ranging from Rs 5000 to Rs 25000. Failing to pay the fine leads to imprisonment.

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