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Price of old newspapers shoots up following ban on plastic bags

Staff Reporter

Big demand for paper and paper bags in happy fallout

— PHOTO: G.P. Sampath Kumar

PAPER MONEY:It is good times for raddiwalas too as paper mills are buying old newspapers for a higher price.

BANGALORE: Selling old newspapers is a tedious job but someone's got to do it. However, those volunteering for it come back with fatter wallets these days. For, the ban on plastic covers of less than 40 microns has pushed up old newspaper prices. So your neighbourhood raddiwala now forks out Rs.10 to Rs.11 a kilo. To think that you were getting just Rs. 5 to Rs. 7 per kg three months ago!

Higher and higher

So why has this happened? On March 15 this year, the civic authorities banned those flimsy plastic covers saying they were a veritable hazard to the environment. Unable to use cheap, thin plastic covers less than 40 microns thick, several shopkeepers have substituted them with paper bags. Hence, the demand for old newspapers and magazines has risen considerably. The prices of notebooks and magazines have also risen similarly.

Paper prices are only bound to increase further, predict the raddiwalas, as awareness and implementation of the ban take root. Not that they are complaining. It's good times for them too. For, old newspapers are also purchased by paper mills, which recycle them into sheets of fresh, new paper which spiffy retail outlets turn into bags.

‘Business is good'

N. Kalavathi, who owns Balaji Paper Corner in Malleswaram, said their business of purchasing old newspapers and selling it to paper mills has begun seeing better days. “Business has really picked up. Previously, we used to earn around Rs. 5,000 a month but now because of the great demand for old newspapers, we are earning up to Rs. 10,000,” she beamed.

Balakrishna, owner of Paper Mart, said the plastic cover ban has proved to be good not only for the environment but also for business.

So are there any long faces in this scenario? Certainly. Shopkeepers now have to spend more on carry bags. “Our profit margins have gone down a little because of this ban. And in this business, even a small amount counts,” said Babu, who sells bananas in the Vijayanagar market. He spends Rs. 20 every day on waste paper to wrap bananas.

Difficult customers

Small businesses face other problems too.

“Even if we try to use paper bags, some customers insist on plastic covers because they are stronger and rainproof. The Government should first penalise the public for using these plastic covers,” grumbled a grocer in Vyalikaval, who continues to use the banned plastic covers.

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