Most of these tea sellers got to know about the ban through newspapers or by word of mouth. The coffee and tea chains in the city are also implementing the bans.
Glass cups or kulhads have replaced paper cups at tea stalls as the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s decision to ban paper cups in the city will come into force from Friday. The AMC decision was taken after it was found that paper cups clogged the drains.
According to Harshad Solanki, Director of Solid Waste Management Department at AMC, Ahmedabad disposes about 25 lakh paper cups every day. “They choke the drains. These cups are not exactly paper cups as they have a thin coating of the plastic and cannot be torn. Their disposal is difficult and they create a lot of litter,” Solanki said.
The ban was notified on January 15. The tea vendors and other such shop owners were given time till January 20 to switch to alternatives such as ceramic, glass, terracotta (kulhad) or steel cups. “After January 20, we will start sealing the shops and stalls who will be selling these cups. No fine has been imposed. Moreover, these cups cost a lot to these vendors too,” said Solanki.
“We are targeting the users here. They are discouraged from using the cups. Our focus is not on banning the production (of paper cups),” Solanki clarified.
He added that for the past two months, more of these cups were being disposed of and the shops of vendors using them were sealed if found using them. The department was running a campaign for the past 15 days discouraging the use of paper cups and convincing vendors to switch to the alternatives. The civic body has claimed to have received a positive response.
However, Nepal Singh, who runs a tea stall on Nyay Marg in the Bodakdev area said many of these vendors do not have the facility of water to wash the alternative cups frequently. “Plus, customers, too, have issues using the glass cups given the hygiene part. This has become a major problem after the Covid-19 pandemic,” the 35-year-old said.
Singh used to buy nearly 400-500 paper cups daily that cost him 20 paise-50 paise per piece depending on the size of the cups. “First, for customers sake, we might have to buy kulhads, and given the purchase cost, we will have to increase the cost of tea. Second, after the ban is fully imposed, the glass cups will also see an increase in their costs,” Singh added.
Depending on their sizes, a glass cup costs around Rs 10, while a small terracotta cup, known as “kulhad”, retails around Rs 5. Many tea stalls such as the ones lined on the SG Highway near Karnavati Club are, however, welcome AMC’s decision. “The ban has saved us from the cost of purchasing disposable paper cups. Purchasing the glass cups (Rs 4 each) is a one time thing and prevents litter, too.
However, we are not planning to keep kulhads as they cost about Rs 3 each and cannot be reused. My customers are absolutely fine with it,” Dinesh Desai, a tea stall owner. He says he keeps around 30 glass cups in his stall after the ban and washes them in two water buckets kept beside.
Most of these tea sellers got to know about the ban through newspapers or by word of mouth. The coffee and tea chains in the city are also implementing the bans. “We have stopped using the paper cups that have been banned by the corporation. However, the cups we use do not fall under the criteria and are not plastic-coated. These can be recycled as well. If required, we will go for alternatives like ceramic or glass cups,” said one of the waiters at a tea cafe chain in the city.
Musfik Alam, a 35-year-old tea stall owner in Jamalpur, said the ban has affected some of his customers and the takeaways. “There were customers who used to take tea to nearby shops on a daily basis. So, I used to give cups with the parcel as well. Now, it is difficult to sell to them. The glass cups that we are using cannot be given. We also have to wash them frequently. That is a bit vexing.”