New Delhi: Environmentalists have hailed the Centre’s recent decision to prohibit the import of plastic waste in the form of flakes and lumps and said it would tighten the noose around those private companies which are unethically procuring it from developed countries. However, some green activists also feel that the move will hit such industries negatively. Earlier this month, the Environment ministry issued a notification clarifying that import of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) flakes made from used PET bottles is prohibited.
PET flakes are similar to washed granules and is processed waste. PET bottle waste is cleaned and ground and it can be used as raw material to produce new products. Environmentalist Chandra Bhushan said,
It is a move to close this loophole. It is an excellent move. It is a big trade happening in the world. The USA and other developed countries have been dumping it here (India).
Echoing similar reactions, Vinod Shukla, president of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Smriti Manch (PDUSM) said the move will arm twist the recycling and textile industries which have been importing plastic waste for petty gains. He said,
While, the entire nation is working towards strengthening the collection and recycling ecosystem of plastic waste under the leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the recycling and textile industries were importing it from other countries for their petty gains. The Indian companies were exploiting a loophole to import the raw material for manufacturing various recycled products from PET bottles waste. They earn crores every year by manufacturing more than 100 products like polyester carpet, T-shirts, athletic shoes, luggage, industrial strapping, sheet and film, automotive parts such as luggage racks, fuse boxes, bumpers, grilles and door panels etc. by recycling PET bottles.
He added that the industries should collect and use the locally produced PET waste so it can help the country become plastic waste free. The Environment ministry had in March this year issued a notification banning the import of solid plastic waste including PET, by amending the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules 2016. However, on October 3, the ministry re-issued a notification saying,
Considering that PET flakes are made from used PET bottles etc which are essentially plastic waste, the PET flakes should also be prohibited for import in line with the provisions of the Hazardous Other Wastes (Management and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules 2016. Talking about how implementation of the rules will take place, Bhushan said the once the Customs officials are trained well, it could be taken care of. Our Customs department has improved significantly. Our system of random checks are very good. Once you train the custom departments well, then it will make things better. They are already doing well.
However, Ashish Jain, director of the Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA), opined that while this move may increase demand of Indian flakes but would hit the industries as it will take time to adjust to the change.
Advantage of the ban is that there will be a demand of Indian flakes. Industries would earlier get cheaper flakes from outside. But now they have to buy Indian waste and make flakes. It is beneficial for small scale recyclers. Mr. Jain said,”However, the disadvantage is that industries will be hit as it will take some time to regularise. Plastic Waste Management Rules are also stringent about setting up of recycling industries. Challenge is meeting the demand of PET flakes.
Explaining what PET flakes are, Mr. Jain said,
PET flakes are like washed granules. It is not exactly waste but processed waste. PET bottle waste is cleaned and ground and it can be used as raw material to produce new products. Many industries are into importing this.
He also added that industries should he given the freedom to import their choice of flake as it is not waste but raw material. “Flake is not a waste but a raw material so industries should be given a choice to import raw material they want,” he said.