Ban on plastic packaging for junk food products in Himachal Pradesh upheld

High Court vacates stay; says ban must be enforced from coming January 26

 
By Soma Basu
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015

The order came in response to three petitions filed in 2010 to reduce indiscriminate use of plastic. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)
 

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has vacated a stay on the state government’s notification banning plastic packaging for 25 junk food items, directing that the ban be now enforced in the state from January 26 next year.

A division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice VK Sharma last Thursday directed the government to ensure edible oils and fats are not sold in plastic bottles and pouches, but rather packed in tin containers. The ban excludes drinking water, both packed and mineral.

The Himachal government has been directed to ensure from March 31 onwards no food items, including primary and essential food, are manufactured, transported, sold, packaged and distributed without conforming to the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 and the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulation of 2011.

The state has also been directed to appoint a food commissioner, if not already appointed, within four weeks. It would also have to ensure that person is permitted to commence or carry on any food business without obtaining a licence.

Taking a strong stance on the adverse effects of plastic on health and environment, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had ordered a statewide ban on the sale of junk food in non-biodegradable packets from April 1, 2013.

The order came in response to three petitions filed in 2010 to reduce indiscriminate use of plastic. At that time the court had set up a committee to suggest ways to reduce use of plastic packaging in food items. The committee, headed by the then additional chief secretary of the state, however, failed to follow the order. Consequently, another committee was formed. After much dilly-dallying, the committee gave its list of recommendations in January this year. In its order, the court said the list is not final and more items could be included. The next hearing is on coming March 15.

In its January 10 order, court had said — “We are not in any manner issuing directions that such items are banned because that is not within the purview of the court but if we follow the Himachal Pradesh Non-Biodegradable (Control) Act of 1995, the least we can do is to direct that these harmful items should be sold only in bio-degradable packing.” It said such packing might increase cost of products, “but it would be worth paying that extra money to protect environment and health of the children”.

Himachal Pradesh has successfully implemented its ban on plastic carry bags and other non-biodegradable products. It had proposed to extend the ban on junk food items with effect from July 1, 2013. In March 2013, a petition was filed by the Sanyukt Vyapar Mandal Khalini, the Indian Biscuits Manufacturers Association, NOIDA, the Haroli Block Industries Associations, and Tahliwal Una against the government notification. On September 3, the court hadstayed the said notification till November 19.

The High Court has now cleared the stay on the Himachal Pradesh government’s notification issued on 26 June 2013 imposing ban on sale, storage, entry, supply and manufacture of 25 junk items.

The court also vacated its stay on the notification issued by the Department of Science, Technology and Environment on June 26, 2013 imposing a ban on sale, storage, entry, supply and manufacture of these items in the state.

One of the petitioners against the government notification, the Indian Biscuit Manufacturers’ Association (IBMA), is now planning to file a review petition in the court.

KP Mohandas, secretary general of IBMA, said the court order is clearly against the interest of consumers, industry and trade. “We have been consulting the Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) about introducing bio-degradable packaging. The director told us clearly that no such technology is available in the country for biodegradable packaging of mass food products such as biscuits. We are very disappointed with the order,” he said.

Bihari Lal Sharma, executive director of Shimla-based non-profit Youth for Sustainable Development, said it is an important development. Even though the court as not clarified what it means by essential and non-essential, its directions would have far-reaching consequences in stopping indiscriminate use of plastic. “However, proper implementation of the government notification to ban plastic packaging is the key to the resolving the problem,” he said.

Items banned in non-biodegradable packing
 
  • Chips/wafers
  • Kurkure/mad angles
  • Biscuits
  • Namkeen
  • Lollypop/Candy/candy bar/toffees
  • Cookies
  • Ice cream
  • Chocolates
  • Noodles
  • Samosas
  • Pakoras
  • Pizzas
  • Burgers
  • French fries
  • Colas, carbonated drinks
  • Shakes
  • Synthetic and fruit beverages
  • Sweets
  • Naan, pav bhajee, golgappa and street foods

Action plan with indicative guidelines for plastics waste management (PWM)

Plastic Waste Management and Handling (Amendment) Rules, 2011

The Plastics (Manufacture, Usage and Waste Management) Rules, 2009 - draft notification

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  • I am really pleased with the

    I am really pleased with the court order to ban plastics packaging for food. As a final year student of M.A. Development from Azim Premji Universtiy, Bangalore, I have written a public policy paper on banning plastics packaging for food industry. This order is a major breakthrough in environmental conservation. The key point is, though ban of plastics carry bag can reduce the burden on environment, these food packaging companies pollute the environment through their plastics packaging. This is one of the effective ways to conserve environment. Another advantage is that, the manufacturers of non plastics products such as cardboard, tin, glass and paper which are biodegradable would be encouraged and competition among the different industries would arise which is good for the economic growth of the country as well. Also, packaging industries would offer innovative solutions to avoid plastics packaging since the ban is effective. Apart from polluting the environment, these plastics tend to accumulate in sewage systems and in water reserves causing numerous diseases.Thus the ban should be encouraged by the consumers (public) as well in order to be effectively implemented. And, to conclude, all other State governments should try to implement this ban as early possible in order to conserve nature and to sustain life in an healthy manner. Thank you.

    P.S. It will be my pleasure to upload my policy paper if I am allowed to do so.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • Keep it up Himachal: A state

    Keep it up Himachal: A state which likes to think wholesome.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • sir, please also issue a

    sir,
    please also issue a copy of high court order of himachal pradesh . as the base of this order we also write a petition in other states high court.
    please issue as soon as possible so we could stay in other states. thank you

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • Lot of development is

    Lot of development is underway in our country to make snack food Packaging and other Poly packaging biodegradable.
    We are reaching almost final stages to make this possible. In some area it has also been implemented, specially in the area of Poly film.
    Number of companies are also undertaking trials.
    For further details on bio degradability one can contact angshumanroy59@gmail.com.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • It is very good step by the

    It is very good step by the government. but Government should think for those whose earnings depends solely upon selling these kind of products.
    It will be our pleasure to use paper or tin.
    but big companies straightly say that wholesaler/retailer should stop selling their products.
    now question is , what should a normal shopkeeper sell?
    everything is in plastic.

    Even government should give relief to sellers for selling plastic packing products, which are already purchased by them.so that they could not suffer day by day facing of chalaans and penalities by authorities.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • Job required

    Posted by: Vijay | 2 years ago | Reply