Mumbai plastic ban: City's bakery owners want alternative to plastic to keep business afloat

Jun 27, 2018, 19:05 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani, Suman Mahfuz Quazi and Hemal Ashar

Standalone establishment such as the farsan marts and bakeries catering to the middle-class population in Mumbai seems to have been worst hit by the plastic ban

Mumbai plastic ban: City's bakery owners want alternative to plastic to keep business afloat
American Express Bakery, Bandra and Byculla

As the city grapples with the blanket plastic ban, it is the standalone establishment catering to the middle-class population that seems to have been worst hit. Farsan marts and bakeries fall into this bracket, as a major chunk of their stock, from chiwda to fafda, biscuits and cheese straws, used to be packed in plastic. Now, confusion and frustration seem to have taken over both sides of the counter.

American Express Bakery, Bandra and Byculla
This long-standing bakery switched to brown paper bags about a year ago and Yvan Carvalho, fourth-generation owner of the bakery, tells us, "We are not facing any problems with the ban because most of our patrons bring their own bags. As manufacturers, we are allowed to package breads and cookies in plastic. We need to ensure that breads and cookies don't go stale," Carvalho said.

Customer speak
Nazir Gilani,
Businessman
'Everyone is having problems with the ban because of habit, whereas earlier we all used to carry cloth bags'

A-1 Bakery, Bandra

A-1 Bakery, Bandra
Famous for their baked products, sweet buns and fried food A-1 bakery is now faced with a polypropylene conundrum. The manager, on the condition of anonymity, told us, "We are using paper and butter paper now and stopped using plastic two weeks ago. But, there is still a lot of confusion about the whole ban."

Customer speak
Ginny Sachdev,
Restaurateur
'I support the plastic ban, but I am not too happy with the hasty way in which it is being imposed'

City Bakery, Worli

City Bakery, Worli
At City Bakery at Worli, staff was seen wrapping and sometimes double-wrapping pav (bread) in newspaper, while a customer was struggling to fit everything into the cloth bag. Jafar Dashti, partner, City Bakery, said, "Plastic should be allowed at the packing stage. Our customers are complaining that they have to rush home and put the rusk in an airtight bottle like in the old days." Dashti said small establishments find it difficult to give out paper bags. "We simply cannot afford it."

City Bakery, Worli

Customer speak
Anand Bhadekar,
Vile Parle resident
'The plastic ban is a good thing. People must remember to carry cloth bags. The products are fine in butter paper but I am aware that not everybody is happy'

Shalimar Bakers and Confectioners, Versova

Shalimar Bakers and Confectioners, Versova
Jabir Baig, 47, the iconic bakery's manager, laconically dismisses the plastic ban. "This plan will not succeed. It's difficult for us to wrap farsan, biscuits and cookies in paper, especially now in the rains, because they become soggy. My customers keep complaining; often, when there are more than two to three items and I can't provide a bag, they cancel the order. We need an alternative," he said.

Customer speak
Zahida Khan,
Restaurateur
'It's ok that plastic bags are banned but it should be allowed for packaging. I support the ban but it shouldn't make things for economically-backward shopkeepers and shop owners difficult'

Paris Bakery, Dhobi Talao

Paris Bakery, Dhobi Talao
Danesh Irani, managing partner at Paris Bakery, said, "We are telling people that you can buy this only if you have an oven at home." Irani said they are wrapping maska khari, khari biscuits, cheese paapdi, cheese straws in butter paper, but items were getting soggy. "Every product in my bakery is affected. We are manufacturers, so, we should be allowed plastic at the manufacturing stage. Why doesn't PM Narendra Modi intervene?" he asked irritably.

Customer speak
Nozer Bhamgara,
Dhobi Talao resident
'I have been buying from Paris bakery for 20 years. The butter paper has made the cheese straws and papdi biscuit soft. They should be allowed to pack in thicker, reusable plastic'

Kothari Sweets, Mulund

Kothari Sweets, Mulund
"The ban on plastic bags is okay, but what about containers? Nobody is going to carry steel containers from home. At our store, for those buying unpacked fresh farsan, we are now serving it in butter paper bags, which absorb the oil and makes the farsan soggy. We are also having trouble storing stock. We had to throw away 30kg of farsan recently," says Nisha Anam, partner (in pic).

Customer speak
Kalpana Chindarkar
'The ban is a great initiative for the next generation. Yes, farsan does become soggy in paper, but we just need to find the right alternative'

Nayak's Sweets, Matunga

Nayak's Sweets, Matunga
"The sweet boxes are made of paper and we have stopped giving plastic bags. As soon as we get to know of alternatives, we will use it. The biggest problem is that there is no clarity on what is legal and what isn't," says Gururaj Shetty, manager.

Customer speak
Ashit Vaidya
'It's a great policy, if followed strictly. We never used plastic bags in our childhood, so there's no harm in bringing back that time'

Also read: Mumbai plastic ban: Traders shut shop, protest government's sudden crackdown

Bakeries can use paper bags
Nidhi Choudhari, deputy municipal commissioner, who is in charge of implementing the plastic ban in Mumbai, said, "We are waiting for clear instructions from the state government over retailers' packaging and we have not started fining them yet. In the case of bakery products, items will not get soggy if good quality paper bags are used. Also in case of cutlery, we had several biodegradable alternatives on show at our exhibition last week."
As told to Chetna Yerunkar

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