The important aspects of New Rules are listed below:
- Items that have been banned are: ear buds with plastic sticks; plastic sticks for balloons; plastic flags; candy sticks; ice-cream sticks; polystyrene i.e., thermocol for decoration; plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays; wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packets; plastic or PVC banners less than ten (10) microns; and stirrers.
- As regards the thickness criteria, the erstwhile requirement of fifty (50) microns of thickness had been substituted with seventy five (75) microns w.e.f. September 30, 2021 which is revised as one hundred twenty (120) microns w.e.f. December 31, 2022.
- While the use of compostable plastic has not been prohibited, non-woven plastic carry bags will be mandatorily required to be a minimum of 60 Gram Per Square Meter (GSM).
Non-compliance of the New Rules is provided to be dealt with in the manner as provided for in the Environment Protection Act, 1986 i.e., imprisonment of five (5) years, or a penalty up to Rs. 100,000, or both and in case of repeated non-compliance, a penalty of Rs. 5,000 for each day of such violation is to be levied.
Challenges & Criticism
Stakeholders of the SUP community had expressed their concerns about the way the phasing out of such items was directed. Demands4 like revised deadlines for clearing up existing stock, provision for relief packages or rehabilitation were made. Statistics, as presented by the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association (AIPMA), hint at potential job losses and crores of loan defaults.
Thus far, States in India have shown a mixed bag of responses. State of Tamil Nadu, for instance, had launched the “Meendum Manjappai”5 campaign back in 2021 following its own ban in 2019 of 14 specific SUP items. This campaign is in full swing and requires people to carry their own cotton bags while stepping out to run errands. Tiruchy6 has been doing its bit by encouraging the use of banana and areca leaves, wooden sticks, cotton bags, etc. State of Tamil Nadu is also using this as an opportunity to facilitate entrepreneurship.
Still this change is likely to take some time to gain momentum. Dehradun7, in the State of Uttarakhand, finds its vendors in a dilemma. Challenges like finding economical and environment-friendly alternatives and continuous usage of SUP items in the name of stock clearance have been reported. In the State of Kerala,8 traders seem to have similar concerns.
Anhad Law’s Perspective
4 Devika Singh, Plastic makers left in the lurch after government bans single-use plastic, Money control (Jul. 5, 2022, 2:52 PM), https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/companies/plastic-makers-left-in-the-lurch-after-government-bans-single-use-plastic-8781201.html
5 How prepared are states for ban on single-use plastics?, Deccan Herald (Jun. 19, 2022, 11:45 IST), https://www.deccanherald.com/national/how-prepared-are-states for-ban-on-single-use-plastics-1119449.html
6 Palanivel Rajan C, ‘Can’t abandon single-use plastics until we get affordable alternatives’, say Tiruchy vendors, The New Indian Express (Jul. 17, 2022, 2:56 AM), https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jul/07/cant-abandon-single-use-plastics-until-we-get-affordable-alternatives-say-tiruchy-vendors 2473694.html
7 Tanmayee Tyagi, Despite ban, vendors using single-use plastic in Dehradun, The Times of India (Jul. 13, 2022, 7:38 IST), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/despite-ban-vendors-using-single-use-plastic-in-dehradun/articleshow/92839977.cms
8 Shainu Mohan, WasSUP? A rundown on Kerala’s battle against single-use plastic, The New Indian Express (Jul. 13, 2022, 6:38 AM), https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2022/jul/13/wassup–a-rundown-on-keralas-battle-against-single-use-plastic-2475810.html
9 Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, No. G.S.R. 133(E) (February 16, 2022)
10 SM NajmusSakib, Bangladesh’s polybag ban falls flat in stopping production, use, AA (Jul. 02, 2021), https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/bangladesh-s-polybag ban-falls-flat-in-stopping-production-use/2292293
Disclaimer: The contents of the above publication are based on understanding of applicable laws and updates in law, within the knowledge of authors. Readers should take steps to ascertain the current developments given the everyday changes that may be occurring in India on internationally on the subject covered hereinabove. These are personal views of authors and do not constitute a legal opinion, analysis or interpretation. This is an initiative to share developments in the world of law or as may be relevant for a reader. No reader should act on the basis of any statement made above without seeking professional and up-to-date legal advice. Given the order, notifications, etc., issued by several State or Central governments, from time to time, due to change in the COVID-19 cases, it is advisable to check the current status and not solely rely on the contents of a publication as a current status in a matter, unless mentioned otherwise.