Expert questions decision to ban PET bottles of less than 200 ml

Neha Basudkar
Monday, 2 July 2018

Several tweaks in short time reflects a confused govt 

Pune: It has been only three months from its first notification and the State government on Saturday made an amendment to the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Production (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification 2018 thereby exempting various items from the blanket ban on plastic. Within three months, various notifications were issued which reflects the confused state of mind of the State government besides lack of homework before implementing the ban.

Meanwhile, in the draft notification issued on June 30, the changes include internal packaging, industrial packaging, retail packaging, e-commerce and ban in use, sale, storage and manufacture of PET or PETE bottles of beverage having liquid holding capacity of less than 200 ml.

Interestingly, a small mistake could be noticed in the draft notification of the English version in which the dateline of the draft notification is mentioned as June 29, 2018, while in the third paragraph the notification mentions: “And whereas, the Empowered Committee in its meeting held on June 30, 2018, resolved to make amendment in the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, 2018.”

Vijay Habbu, a member of the Plastic Task Force Committee told Sakal Times, “It was a good sign that the State has given relief for retail packaging, but banning the most recyclable material which is PET or PETE (polyethene terephthalate) bottles with a holding capacity less than 200 ml, is not understandable. 
As after recycling PET bottles, it can be used in making clothes.”

He said, “The widely used PET bottles which are comfortable for anyone to carry are banned, which means bottle having the liquid holding capacity of less than 200 ml including energy drinks, water bottles and soft drinks are banned. But these bottles are very easy to recycle as their recycling code is 1, but the State government had not banned the multilayer and multi-component packaging. There is no buyback mechanism on both the packaging materials while only Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) plan has been implemented on it.”

According to the notification, a  review will be taken on the EPR of the multi-layer and tetra-pak industry after three months from date of amended notification and on basis of outcome of the review, a further decision will be taken.

“If they are going to ban PET bottles holding capacity less than 200 ml, then they should put a ban on all PET bottles. Because if they ban these bottles, then people will start using glass bottles for consumption of any liquid item, which will be more hazardous to the environment. Glass can degrade after 10,947 years while plastic degrades in 450 years,” he said. Also, the buyback cost of the bottles below 1 litre to 200 ml is Rs 2, while the buyback cost for bottles above 1 litre is Re 1. And the manufacturing cost of small bottles ranges from Rs 75. That means any bottle manufacturer could produce small bottles and sell it for Rs 2 for which his profit will be Rs 1,  Habbu added.

Akhilesh Bhargav, member of the Committee said, “The State has not recommended some of our points including disposable PET bottles and hot food containers used in food industry. They said these points will be reviewed and another notification will be issued for the same.”

Sameer Joshi, another Committee member said, “The State will give the manufacturers of multilayer and multi-component three-months’ time for its EPR action and will give a notice and no further exemptions will be given in the plastic ban.” 

Amendments in the recent notification by govt

As per the notification issued on March 23 for internal packaging or industrial packaging, the plastic cover or plastic to wrap materials at the manufacturing stage is an integral part of manufacturing so guidelines to recycle or reuse such plastic should be printed prominently on the cover and material. 

While as per the notification on June 30, plastic material or thermocol used for wrapping the material at the manufacturing stage is an integral part of manufacturing and will comply the following condition including packaging material will be more than 50 micron thickness, it should be made of minimum 20 per cent of recyclable plastic material (except for food packaging), except for export purpose manufacturers details, type of plastic with code number and buyback price should be mentioned and EPR should be there.

The changes made here are earlier the ambiguity between bags and films has been removed as all plastic material is introduced and the thickness of 50 microns is introduced. Guidelines should be printed on the packaging materials and EPR has been introduced. 
As per the notification of March 23 retail packaging was banned as it fell under single-use plastic but as on June 23 notification, wholesalers and retailers of groceries and grain products are allowed to sell groceries and grain products in sealed plastic packaging material subject to compliance of condition including the plastic packaging material will be more than 50 microns thickness with a minimum weight of 2 gram and the packaging material will be printed with manufacturers’ details, the type of plastic with the code number and buyback price. The manufacturing association for retail packaging material will work to create a mechanism for collection of plastic through a buyback mechanism and ensure recycling and final disposal of collected plastic materials. 

The changes made here are that grain and grocery bags are allowed in retail but need to be sealed. Minimum 50 microns with a minimum weight of 2 grams, all packaging needs to be printed with manufacturer’s name, location, PCC number, recycle code and buyback price. EPR has been introduced and retailers are allowed three months to exhaust their stocks and manufacturers need to comply with the changes immediately.

Meanwhile, according to changes made in e-commerce in the notification of March 23, the plastic packaging material used for e-commerce was completely banned but according to the notification of June 23, plastic packaging material used for products intended for sale outside the State through e-commerce will be allowed. But if the sale is intended inside the State it will be allowed for three months from date of issuance of the notification. Also, the e-commerce industry will create a mechanism for collection of plastic packaging material and buyback mechanism.  

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