India Bans Import of Plastic Waste

Prelims level : Mains level : GS 3 Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
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  • Taking an important step towards tackling menace of plastic waste, the government has put a complete ban on import of solid plastic waste/scrap into the country. India every day generates 25,940 tonnes of such waste.


  • The country has now completely prohibited the import of solid plastic waste by amending the Hazardous Waste (Management & Trans-boundary Movement) Rules on March 1,” said an environment ministry official. The Rules were amended, keeping in view the huge gap between waste generation and recycling capacity in the country and also India’s commitment to completely phase-out single-use plastic by 2022.
  • Under other amendments in the rules the ministry made a provision where white category (practically non-polluting or very less polluting) industries will have to hand over their hazardous wastes generated in their units to authorized users, waste collectors or disposal facilities.
  • The white category of industries contains 36 industrial sectors such as air-coolers, air-conditioners, biscuits making, metal caps, hand-loom a chalk-making among others. Besides, the amendments brought certain changes in trans-boundary movement of electrical and electronic components and silk waste. Referring to those amendments, the environment ministry said, “Exporters of silk waste have now been given exemption from requiring permission from the ministry.”
  • Similarly, electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective can now be imported back into the country, within a year of export, without obtaining permission from the environment ministry.
  • It has been done keeping into consideration the ‘ease of doing business’ and boosting ‘Make in India’ initiative by simplifying the procedures under the Rules, while at the same time upholding the principles of sustainable development and ensuring minimal impact on the environment.


  • Earlier, such import was partly banned as India did not prohibit it in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ). Besides, import of plastic waste/scrap was also allowed by the Export Oriented Units (EOUs) which used to procure it from abroad as post-recycling resources.
  • After a ban by China few years ago, India had emerged as one of the world’s largest importers of the plastic waste. The provision of partial ban used to be reportedly misused by many companies on the pretext of being in the SEZ.
  • Since there is no adequate capacity of recycling of plastic waste in the country, a huge quantity of such hazardous waste remains uncollected causing substantial damage to soil and water bodies. According to a study, conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), total 10,376 tonnes (40%) out of 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste per day remain uncollected in the country.
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