Environment ministry issues plastic waste management rules

Updated on Jul 14, 2022 04:15 PM IST

Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2022, were issued in view of the phasing out of certain single-use plastic products from July 1 and the mandate to increase thickness of plastic carry bags

The phasing out of certain single-use plastic products began from July 1. (HT PHOTO)
The phasing out of certain single-use plastic products began from July 1. (HT PHOTO)
ByJayashree Nandi

The Union environment ministry has issued Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2022, in view of the phasing out of certain single-use plastic products from July 1 and the mandate to increase the thickness of plastic carry bags to over 120 microns from December 31.

The rules specify what biodegradable plastics are and provide a statutory framework for their use as an alternative material. They provide for levying of penalties or environmental compensation under the “Polluter Pays” principle on those who do not comply with the rules.

The amended rules were issued on July 6 and updated on the ministry’s website on Wednesday. They say biodegradable plastics mean plastics other than compostable plastics, which undergo degradation by biological processes under ambient environment (terrestrial or in water) conditions.

The biodegradable plastics do not leave any micro-plastics or visible or distinguishable or toxic residue, which has adverse environmental impacts, adhering to standards of the Bureau of Indian Standards and certified by the Central Pollution Control Board. Until standards are notified, biodegradable plastics shall conform to tentative standards.

As a transitory measure, provisional certificates for biodegradable plastics will be issued by the Central Pollution Control Board in cases where an interim test report is submitted to prove biodegradability. The provisional certificate shall be valid till June 30, 2023. The interim test report is be obtained from the Central Institute of Petrochemical Engineering and Technology or a laboratory recognised under the Laboratory Recognition Scheme, 2020.

Further, the name, registration number of the producer or brand owner and thickness in case of carry bag and plastic packaging will have to be labelled. This provision will not apply in case plastic packaging is used for imported goods. Earlier this labelling provision was applicable only for plastic carry bags but now it has been extended to cover all plastic packaging.

The ministry said the second amendment rules align with those of the Guidelines on Extended Producer Responsibility on plastic packaging issued earlier this year.

All India Plastics Manufacturers Association general secretary Deepak Ballani said there is a serious concern about the availability of biodegradable products that are in compliance with notification. “In absence of any major changes in littering habits, segregation strategies, or inappropriate use of such provision can have an adverse effect on the environment. The envisaged solution should not be the reason for a bigger problem in the future. The major issues could be micro plastics, mix up with normal plastics hampering recyclability. It is not very clear as to how such challenges will be addressed.”

The phasing out single-use plastic items from July 1 include wrapping or packaging films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners of less than 100-micron thickness, stirrers, plastic cutlery, straws, plastic sticks for balloons and earbuds etc.

The manufacturing, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of these single-use plastics, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene commodities, have also been prohibited even as plastic manufacturer associations have said they are not prepared to implement such a ban immediately due to lack of alternatives.

Some single-use plastic such as rigid packaging, single and multi-layer flexible packaging and carry bags will be covered under the ministry’s Guidelines on Extended Producer Responsibility for Plastic Packaging notified on February 16.

The guidelines contain specifications for reuse, recycling, use of recycled plastic content, and end-of-life disposal of plastic packaging that cannot be recycled.

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