Enviornment Prelims cum Mains

Environment Ministry plugs loophole that allowed plastic waste import

The News

  • In a bid to fight plastic waste import, the government has issued a rule to prohibit plastic waste imports to SEZs and EOUs.

 

News Summary

  • The government issued an order banning plastic imports in Special Economic Zones and Export Oriented Units.
  • The order was issued under Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019.

 

Background

  • India banned import of plastic wastes in 2015.
  • However, following an amendment in 2016, plastic waste imports were allowed in SEZs and EOUs.
  • This move substantially increased plastic imports in the last couple of years in the country.

 

In brief: Ban on plastic waste import

Plastic imports: Global Trends

  • Globally, plastic wastes from developed countries find their way to developing countries as they do not recycle their plastic waste on their own.
  • China was a leading importer of plastic waste until recently when it banned the import of plastic waste.
  • After Chinese ban, South East Asia is emerging as the global hub of plastic waste recycler including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam etc.
  • India is also emerging as the leading plastic waste importer of plastic waste in the aftermath of the Chinese ban.

 

Plastic imports: Indian Scenario

  • India was the 10th largest importer of plastic waste in the world until Chinese ban.
  • Now the plastic waste imports especially PET bottles have substantially increased in the last few years.
  • This is because India recycles almost 90% of all the PET bottles generated domestically.

 

Data:

  • In 2016-17 plastic waste imports was 12,000 million tonnes.
  • This increased to 48,000 million tonnes in 2017-18.
  • In first 3 months of 2018-19, India has already imported 25,000 million tonnes

 

Reasons for increase

  • Increase in plastic waste is attributed to
  • Chinese ban on plastic waste imports
  • As a result increasing plastic waste imports from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi.

 

Plastic waste import ban

  • India banned plastic import in 2015.
  • This was done for 2 reasons:
    • Inability to recycle large domestic plastic waste already generated
    • In order to incentivize the domestic plastic recycling
  • However, plastic imports were allowed in SEZs and EOUs.
  • The new order completely bans import of plastic waste including SEZ and EOU.

 

Additional information: Domestic plastic waste

  • India generates about 26000 tonnes of plastic waste every day.
  • The level of recycling of plastic waste is abysmally low with only 56% of plastic waste generated is recycled.
  • The main reasons are
  • Inefficient waste segregation
  • Inadequate collection. (40% goes uncollected)

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