The Indian government has completely banned import of solid plastic waste/scrap into the country. India generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste every day. Earlier, such import was partly banned as India did not prohibit it in special economic zones (SEZ). Besides, import of plastic waste/scrap was also allowed by export oriented units (EOUs) which used to procure it from abroad as post-recycling resources.  “The country has now completely prohibited the import of solid plastic waste by amending the Hazardous Waste (Management & Trans-boundary Movement) Rules on March 1,” an environment ministry official said.

He said the rules were amended keeping in view the huge gap between waste generation and recycling capacity in the country and also India’s commitment to completely phase out single-use plastic by 2022. After being banned by China a few years ago, India had emerged as one of the world’s largest importers of plastic waste. The provision of partial ban was misused by many companies on the pretext of being in an SEZ.

Since there is no adequate capacity of recycling of plastic waste in the country, a huge quantity of such hazardous waste remains uncollected, causing substantial damage to soil and water bodies. According to a study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 10,376 tonnes (40%) out of the 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste per day remains uncollected in the country.

Under other amendments in the rules, the ministry made a provision where white category (practically non-polluting or very less polluting) of industries will have to hand over hazardous wastes generated in their units to authorised users, waste collectors or disposal facilities. The white category of industries contains 36 industrial sectors such as air-coolers, air-conditioners, biscuit making, metal caps, handloom and chalk-making, among others

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