NEW DELHI: India has prohibited import of plastic waste into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU). Lauding the decision, experts said that it is unlikely to have a major impact on Indian plastic recycling industry.
The move comes a year after China, world's biggest plastic scrap importer stopped import from western countries and southeast Asian countries becoming major hub of scrap plastic recycling. India is among the world's top 10 plastic scrap importers and the official figures show that plastic imports from 50 countries stood at Rs 306 crore in 2016-17.
The ministry of environment, forest and climate change amended the amended the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 in order to strengthen the implementation of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in the country.
A statement issued by the ministry said that the amendment has been done keeping into consideration the "Ease of Doing Business" and boosting "Make in India" initiative by simplifying the procedures under the Rules, while at the same time upholding the principles of sustainable development and ensuring minimal impact on the environment.
"Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU)," the ministry said.
Experts feel that the amendment should have happened long ago as it poses massive health impact to people involved in the recycling industry.
Satish Sinha, associate director at non-profit Toxics Link, said after China banned import of plastic scrap early 2018, there were apprehension of increase in imports to Asian countries as the US and European countries don't have enough capacity to recycle plastic.
"I really don't see this will have drastic impact on livelihood of people in the industry. India generates enough plastic and major chunk of recycling is handled by informal players," said Sinha.
Manoj Mishra convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan and a former forest officer said plastic is number one enemy of environment and there was no case ever anytime to import scrap plastic.
"This should be taken forward to even ban the single user plastic through the country. There is no justification on livelihood linked to it as it is a poison and directly connected to health of people engaged in the sector," said Mishra.
The amended rules have also exempted exporters of silk waste from requiring permission from the environment 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 ministry.