• The government has plugged a loophole that allowed the import of plastic waste into India for processing.
  • Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU)
  • The change in law was part of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019.
  • India, in spite of having a significant plastic pollution load of its own, and a ban on plastic waste imports, imported PET bottles from abroad for processing in Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

  • The influx of PET bottles has quadrupled from 2017 to 2018.

  • Indian firms are importing plastic scraps from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi for recycling and the imports of PET bottle scrap & flakes has increased from 12,000 tonnes in FY 16-17 to 48,000 tonnes in FY 17-18 growing @ 290%.

  • India has already imported 25,000 MT in the first 3 months of FY 18-19.

  • India consumes about 13 million tonnes of plastic and recycles only about 4 million tonnes.

  • To incentivise domestic plastic recycling units, the government had banned the import of plastic waste, particularly PET bottles, in 2015.

  • In 2016, an amendment allowed such imports as long as they were carried out by agencies situated in SEZs.

  • The lack of an efficient waste collection and segregation system is the root cause for much of the plastic not making its way to recycling centres.