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High GST rate a challenge for embracing eco-friendly cutlery

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Disposable plastic cutlery is much more affordable at current rates

A majority of hoteliers and restaurateurs are still unable to use cans, plates and spoons made up of environment-friendly biodegradable bagasse (pulpy fiber left after extraction of juice from sugarcane) for servings and parcels. This is because bagasse material comes costly with 18% GST whereas plastic which is banned and not supposed to be used (given the lesser proportion of it getting recycled, thus posing threat to the environment) comes cheaper with 5% GST.

The hotel associations want the government to reduce the cost of cutlery made out of bagasse by reducing GST to make its use common across the industry, which is the largest consumer of such packaging material and thus put an end to use of plastic and thermocol as mandated by the government itself. However, they are shocked over the fact that taxation on eco-friendly bagasse was very high compared to plastic.

According to them their profit margins have become thinner especially due to ongoing pandemic, rising fuel prices, and a sizable share given to food delivery aggregators leaving lesser scope for them to buy costly biodegradable cutlery.

Shivanand Shetty, President, AHAR said “As a responsible industry association we understand the damage usage of plastic can cause to the environment and support initiatives and the steps that can reduce dependency on plastics in our packaging and cutlery items. But to incentivize or encourage such switchovers, we request the government to reduce the GST on biodegradable items such as bagasse from the current 18% to at least 5%. This can also reduce the final cost the customers have to pay. So, in a way it is a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved.”

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