Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Features of the Amendment rules
Mains level: Issues related to plastic waste disposal in India
- Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU) said the MoEFCC.
- The change in law was part of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019.
Salient features of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management& Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019:
- Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU).
- Exporters of silk waste have now been given exemption from requiring permission from the Ministry.
- Electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective can now be imported back into the country, within a year of export, without obtaining permission from MoEFCC.
- Industries which do not require consent under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, are now exempted from requiring authorization also under the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, provided that hazardous and other wastes generated by such industries are handed over to the authorized actual users, waste collectors or disposal facilities.
Why such move?
- In spite of having a significant plastic pollution load of its own, and a ban on plastic waste imports, imported PET bottles from abroad for processing SEZ.
- The influx of PET bottles was quadrupled from 2017 to 2018.
- Indian firms are importing plastic scrap from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi for recycling.
- India consumes about 13 million tonnes of plastic and recycles only about 4 million tonnes.
- To incentivise domestic plastic recycling units, the government had banned the import of plastic waste, particularly PET bottles, in 2015.
- In 2016, an amendment allowed such imports as long as they were carried out by agencies situated in SEZs.