Imports of plastic bottles for waste processing allowed

What is the News?

After banning the import of plastic waste in 2019, the Environment Ministry has permitted PET Bottles as plastic waste to be imported for processing. 

What has the Government done on the import of Plastic Waste?

The government had banned the import of plastic waste in 2019 to promote the management of locally generated plastic waste.

However, several plastic waste industries have requested the Government to revoke the plan as there was too little waste available for them in India and this was causing them financial losses.

After this, an expert committee was set up by the Ministry of Environment. This committee recommended that firms who had applied for permission could import PET Flakes/Bottles up to 50% of their production capacity. 

Note: Polyethylene Terephthalate(PET) bottles are a category of plastic of which nearly 90% of the domestic supply is already recycled.

What are the objections raised regarding the import of plastic waste into India?

Environment Groups have requested the government not to resume the import of PET bottles, as there is no shortage of PET waste in India. 

As per the industry data, more than 14 lakh tonnes of PET plastic are consumed annually in India and even with a global highest 80% recycling rate, approx. 2.8 lakh tonnes of plastic bottles waste never gets collected.

What was the Government’s response to this?

The government has said that there was no blanket lifting of the import ban on plastic waste. The import was permitted only for the PET bottles to be used for Recycled Polyester Staple Fibre and yarn. 

Source: This post is based on an article “Imports of plastic bottles for waste processing allowed” published in The Hindu on 31st March 2022.

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