15 Feb 2011

Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 notified

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has notified [vide Notification No. S.O.249(E), F.No.17-2/2001-HSMD dated 04.02.2011] the "Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011" to replace the earlier Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999 (amended in 2003). According to the Press Note released by the Ministry along with the Rules, the Salient Features of the New Rules are as under;

Some of the salient features of the new Rules are:-
  • Use of plastic materials in sachets for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala has been banned.
  • Under the new Rules, foodstuffs will not be allowed to be packed in recycled plastics or compostable plastics.
  • Recycled carry bags shall conform to specific BIS standards.
  • Plastic carry bags shall either be white or only with those pigments and colourants which are in conformity with the bar prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). This shall apply expressly for pigments and colourants to be used in plastic products which come in contact with foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and drinking water. 
  • Plastic carry bags shall not be less than 40 microns in thickness. Under the earlier Rules, the minimum thickness was 20 microns. Several State Governments in the meanwhile, had stipulated varying minimum thickness. It is now expected that 40 microns norms will become the uniform standard to be followed across the country. 
  • The minimum size (of 8x12 inches) for the plastic carry bags prescribed under the earlier Rules has been dispensed with.
  • Carry bags can be made from compostable plastics provided they conform to BIS standards. 
It is also critical to note the 'Additional Safeguards' built in these Rules;
  • No carry bags shall be made available free of cost to consumers. The municipal authority may determine the minimum price for plastic carry bags.
  • The municipal authority may also direct the manufacturers to establish plastic waste collection centres, either collectively or individually, in line with the principle of ‘Extended Producers Responsibility’.
  • The new Rules have stipulated provisions for marking or labeling to indicate name, registration number of the manufacturer, thickness and also to indicate whether they are recycled or compostable.
One can only hope that these Rules would be implemented in their full vigour so as to protect the degrading condition of the soil in our country.

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