To see if any further regulatory provisions are required on the subject of restrictions on the packaging by use of plastic material, after the steps already are taken, and if so to what extent, National Green Tribunal asked for examination by an Expert Committee comprising of the representatives of Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Director General of Health Services (DGHS) with FSSAI as nodal agency for coordination. The Committee will be at liberty to co-opt any other expert/ institute or individual and has to submit its report to the Tribunal within three months.
Tribunal was hearing an application on restriction on use of plastic bottles and multi-layered plastic packages used for packaging of carbonated soft drink and liquor as well as other items, in view of the adverse impact on the environment and health. The applicant told Green Tribunal use of plastics, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and multi-layered packs such as Tetra Packs has an adverse impact on health and environment. This also results in increase in plastic waste.
The applicant sought enforcement of notification dated 29.09.2014 issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for prohibiting plastic/ PET containers for oral pharmaceutical activities and fresh label registration with the direction that "no pet/ plastic container and /or multilayered packaging be used for packaging of liquor and carbonated beverage."
He submitted before the Tribunal that the Notification dated 24.12.2018, issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare under Section 92 of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 deals with the issue of packaging mode of food but it ignores Antimony and Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in specific migration limits provided for plastic packaging.
Tribunal made reference to a study by The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in this regard titled "Report of the Committee to Evolve Road Maps on Management of Wastes in India". Shri R.H. Khwaja, Additional Secretary had submitted a report indicating the extent of waste generated and the steps required. Plastic recycling results in contaminated and hazardous plastic products like tiffin boxes, water bottles, toys, buckets etc. Use of such recycled plastic in food and beverages packaging has adverse impact on health and environment.
The applicant had relied upon several study reports on the subject. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had sponsored a study by Indian Institute of Toxicological Research (IITR), Lucknow on the impact of plastic waste disposal on soil and water quality at Lucknow Dumpsites. Study found serious adverse impact on the environment.
Tribunal had issued notice on 29.01.2014 and has been considering the matter for more than five years now. On 03.3.2015, the Tribunal noted the stand of the MoEF&CC that the matter was being considered. The Tribunal observed that plastic multilayered packaging/ PET bottles may be injurious to human health. On 15.07.2015, directions were issued to the CPCB, the MoEF&CC, the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) and Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to file a collective response.
On 24.08.2015, the Tribunal noted that draft notification dated 29.09.2014 had been issued under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 to deal with the packaging of pharmaceutical preparations. The stand of the MoEF&CC was that a National Study on leaching from various kinds of plastic packaging material was proposed. The Tribunal had also considered the report of All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health.
It had also noted that Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016 had been notified but the implementation remained the main difficulty.
On 22.01.2019, the Tribunal noted the steps taken by various States, the regulations prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in relation to packaging material and the regulations framed by FSSAI in respect of food safety standards. The Tribunal had directed the MoEF&CC to look into the said regulations and file its response. The MoEF&CC in its response filed on 19.01.2019, apart from indicating the features of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, including the provision for phasing out multi-layered plastic (MLP), had submitted that the same may not be immediately feasible without alternates which are technically comparable. The same was proposed to be phased out in two years.
Tribunal has now listed the matter for further consideration on 14th of October 2019.
Applicant(s) were represented in the matter by advocate Sharan Mathew while respondent (s) by advocate K.K. Singh, Advocate for MoEF&CC, Nilakanta Nayak, Advocate FOPE, R. Chandrachud, Advocate for IDMA, Ritin Rai, Senior Advocate with Abbas Keshtrapal and Rohit Chandra, advocates for PCMA .
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