The National Green tribunal on Thursday asked the Central Pollution Control Board to submit an action taken report against manufacturers and e-commerce websites who use 'excessive plastic packaging material'.
The order was passed in two original applications, seeking enforcement of 'Extended Producer Responsibility' under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 vis-à-vis the following Respondent-companies:
- Coca-Cola India
- Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages
- PepsiCo India
- Bisleri International
- Parle Agro
- Patanjali Peya
- Nourish CoBeverages Ltd. (Himalayan Water)
- Indian Railway Catering & Tourism
The Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Justice SP Wangdi (Judicial Member) and Dr. Nagin Nanda (Expert Member) have summoned Member Secretary, CPCB on October 14, via video conferencing.
The order was passed after the Tribunal noted that the Board did not mention any coercive measures adopted by it (under the Polluter Pays principle) to prevent these companies from generating excessive waste. Rather, the Board had submitted "one or other reasons for not enforcing the law" by way of an affidavit.
Taking stern view of the same, the Tribunal has asked the Board to undertake 'environmental audit' of these companies, to assess and recover compensation for violation of environmental norms.
"Let further steps be taken in the matter and an action taken report be filed before the next date
…The CPCB can also consider ordering environmental audit against the concerned entities and assess and recover compensation for violation of environmental norms, following due process of law," the order states.
This is not the first time that the NGT has called for proper implementation of Extended Producer's Responsibility. In 2019, the Tribunal had asked the CPCB to submit a report an action plan for enforcement of E-Waste Management Rules, 2016. The order was passed by the Principal Bench while considering a plea for remedial action against unscientific disposal of e-waste resulting in contamination of ground water and soil acidification.
Know the Law
The concept of Extended Producer's Responsibility was incorporated in the Indian legislative framework under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016.
It casts a responsibility on the producers/ brand owners to ensure "environmentally sound management" of the product, until the end of its life. To this end, they may implement a 'take back system' or set up 'collection centres' or both.