The Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2021(hereinafter referred to as PWMAR, 2021) that amended the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, came into effect from 12th August, 2021. However, one of the key amendments that is prohibition of identified single use plastic items throughout India has come into effect from 1st July, 2022. The amendments specifically mention the nature of such single use plastic items and prohibit their manufacture, sale, distribution and usage. There are other amendments stipulated in the PWMAR, 2021 which are listed below.
Scope & Applicability:
The scope of applicability of the rules has been extended to brand-owner and plastic waste processor(recycler, co-processor . Prior to the amendment, the rules applied only to waste generator, local body, Gram Panchayat, manufacturer, Importers and producer.
The amendment has defined certain important terms, which were previously not included in the Rules:
- Non-Woven Plastic Bag means Non-woven plastic bag made up of plastic sheet or web structured fabric of entangled plastic fibers or filaments (and by perforating films) bonded together by mechanical or thermal or chemical means, and the “non-woven fabric” means a flat or tufted porous sheet that is made directly from plastic fibers, molten plastic or plastic films.
- Plastic waste processing means any process by which plastic waste is handled form the purpose of reuse, recycling, co-processing, or transformation into new products
- Single use plastic commodity means a plastic item intended to be used once for the same purpose before being disposed of or recycled
- Thermoset plastic means a plastic which becomes irreversibly rigid when heated and hence cannot be remoulded into desired shape
- Thermoplastic means a plastic which softens on heating and can be moulded into desired shape
Change in minimum micron requirement:
Under Rule 4(c) of the Plastic Waste Management. Rules, 2016 the following amendment has been made. The thickness of the plastic carry bags is increased in the following manner-
- Firstly, from 50 microns to 75 microns with effect from 30th September 2021; and
- Thereafter, from 75 microns to 120 microns with effect from 31st December 2022.
Under Rule 4, non-woven plastic carry bag is required to be not be less than 60 Gram Per Square Meter (GSM) with effect from the 30th September, 2021.
Ban on single-use plastic commodities:
Under Rule 4, a new Clause (2) has been added that states that the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of single use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited from July 1, 2022. These products include:
- Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene for decoration.
- Plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic, or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.
- Change in marking and labeling requirement: Under Rule 11(1), the marking and labeling rules were extended to plastic packaging as well, along with plastic carry bag and multilayered packaging. The Rules amends the previous rules with regard to marking and labeling on the plastic carry bag, plastic packaging and multi-layered packaging. The rules stipulates that the information like name, the registered number of the manufacturer or producer or brand owner, and thickness needs to be mentioned in case of carry bag; the name and registration number of the manufacturer needs to be mentioned in case of multi-layered packaging; and the name and certificate number of producer in case of carry bags made from compostable plastic needs to be mentioned.
The identified single-use plastic is said to have low utility and high littering potential and hence, the use of the said commodities is prohibited. The people are expected to abide by the rules as according to Section 15 of the Environment Protection (EP) Act, 1986, violating the ban could invite punitive action. Manufacturers and distributors of single-use plastic goods were directed to have zero inventories by 30th June 2022. In accordance with the Act states that violating the rules could invite a five-year imprisonment and a fine of upto Rupee One lakh Only, or both. If the violations are repeated, it could mean additional fines up to Rupees Five Thousand Only for each day.