New Delhi: Signaling its tough stand, the Centre has on 24 October issued a notification to plug the loopholes and put a total restriction on the import of plastic waste/PET scrap in the country.

However, while the Centre had already restricted the import of plastic waste from March this year, the “loopholes” in the import policy contributed to adding nearly 1,50,000 metric tonnes of imported plastic waste in the country. 

As per the provisions laid down by the Centre in March this year, import of plastic waste had been restricted, but the importers cleverly bypassed this and started importing used PET plastic bottles in the form of flakes and lumps, while tonnes of plastic waste generated daily in the country remained untreated and dumped into landfills and water bodies.

The new notification will prohibit the import of plastic waste even in the form of flakes and lumps. The new provision has come after the Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA) raised the issue that, on the one hand, the government was banning plastic and, on the other, private companies were “mysteriously” bringing more plastic in the country from abroad.

The new notification issued by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on 24 October amended its previous notifications and prohibited the import of PET bottle waste/scrap/PET flakes made from used PET bottles.

A senior DGFT official told The Sunday Guardian: “The ban on the import of plastic waste in all forms will further boost steps taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government towards restricting the use of single use plastics in daily life in the country.”

As per the DGFT’s import data on plastic waste, this year in 10 months, the country has added nearly 1,00,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste that was imported from 30 Western and Asian countries.

With the import of 29,500 metric tonnes of plastic waste, Uttar Pradesh topped the chart, and Delhi with more than 19,717 metric tonnes appeared the second among plastic waste importers’ regions across the country.

“The new notification will certainly plug the loopholes that were not noticed under the previous notification. The country has now completely prohibited the import of solid plastic waste by amending the Hazardous Waste Rules issued in March this year. The new rule will help the country to completely phase out single use plastic by 2022,” the same official cited above said.

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