The Ministry of the Environment publishes rules for the management of plastic waste | Latest India News

The Union Department of Environment has published Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2022, for the phasing out of certain single-use plastic products from July 1 and the mandate of increase the thickness of plastic carrier bags to over 120 microns from December. 31.

The rules specify what biodegradable plastics are and provide a legal framework for their use as an alternative material. They provide for the imposition of penalties or environmental compensation according to the “polluter pays” principle to those who do not comply with the rules.

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

Biodegradable plastics leave no visible or distinguishable or toxic micro-plastic or residue, which has negative environmental impacts, adhering to Bureau of Indian Standards and certified by the Central Pollution Control Board. Until the standards are notified, biodegradable plastics must comply with the interim standards.

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

In addition, the name, registration number of the producer or brand owner and the thickness in case of carrying bag and plastic packaging should be labelled. This provision will not apply if plastic packaging is used for imported goods. Previously, this labeling provision only applied to plastic carrier bags, but it has now been extended to cover all plastic packaging.

The department said the Second Amendment rules align with those in the Extended Producer Responsibility guidelines on plastic packaging released earlier this year.

All India Plastics Manufacturers Association Secretary General Deepak Ballani said there are serious concerns about the availability of biodegradable products that comply with the notification. “In the absence of any major change in littering habits, segregation strategies or improper use of these provisions may have a negative effect on the environment. The proposed solution should not be the cause of a problem more important in the future. The main problems could be micro-plastics, mixed with normal plastics which hinder recyclability. It is not very clear how these challenges will be solved.

The phasing out of single-use plastic items from July 1 includes wrapping or wrapping films around candy boxes, invitation cards and cigarette packs, plastic or PVC streamers d thickness less than 100 microns, stirrers, plastic cutlery, straws, plastic balloon sticks and headphones, etc.

The manufacture, import, storage, distribution, sale and use of these single-use plastics, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene products, have also been banned, although plastic manufacturers’ associations said they were not ready to implement such a ban immediately due to lack of alternatives.

Certain single-use plastics such as rigid packaging, single and multi-layer flexible packaging and carrier bags will be covered by 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.

Bryce K. Locke