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Assam schools in a fix over CBSE’s circular banning plastic use



GUWAHATI, Aug 6: Several schools in Assam are in a fix over the latest circular of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) asking its affiliated institutions to completely shun plastic items at their campus.

“Banning bottles, wrappers, packaging, bags, cups, plates, tumblers made of plastic or polystyrene on school premises and in school canteen, and encouraging use of alternative biodegradable products will help sensitize students about the ills of using plastic,” the CBSE circular issued to all its affiliated schools in the country said.

But several schools in Guwahati say that the circular sounds good but difficult to implement unless there is an overall awareness in the society to avoid the use of a non-biodegradable product such as plastic.

Even though some leading schools in Guwahati have banned the use of plastic bags on campus, but bottles and lunch boxes made of plastic are still allowed. Some schools have banned the reuse of soft drink bottles, but continue to allow students to bring water in bottles made of “food-grade plastic”.

A teacher at a leading private English-medium school in the city said they do not allow children to reuse soft drink bottles for carrying water. “But, we cannot ask students not to bring any kind of plastic bottle because that would mean they would have to bring glass bottles, which is risky,” she said.

The CBSE circular lists ways in which students can be sensitized about environmental conservation. It suggests conducting activities such as a school waste audit, devising ways to reduce waste generated in school, organizing neighbourhood outreach activities where students can educate people about hazards of plastic waste and organizing competitions on innovative ideas to make the school free of plastic.

But some schools have welcomed the CBSE circular and said they will make their campus plastic free.

The principal of another English-medium school said he will ask students not to bring plastic lunchboxes, bottles and polythene bags. “We will write to parents to give steel lunchboxes and water bottles. In the art and craft classes, we are teaching students to make paper bags,” he said.