Environment

Recycled plastic for food packaging: Why the new rules are shocking

The new directive by Union environment ministry overrides 2016 rules that did not permit carry bags made of recycled plastic for food items

 
By Raju Sajwan
Published: Thursday 30 September 2021
According to new rules, bags made of recycled plastic can be used for packing as well as carrying ready-to-eat food or drink items. Photo: Wikipedia

The Union government, in a new directive, has allowed packing of food items in recycled plastic bags, overriding 2016 rules that did not permit carry bags made of recycled plastic for food items. Experts have voiced apprehension and confusion over the move.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change September 17, 2021 issued the Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2021 in further amendment to Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The clause (b) of sub-rule (1) of Rule 4 related to 2016 rules said: “Carry bags made of recycled plastic or products made of recycled plastic can be used for storing, carrying, dispensing, or packaging ready to eat or drink food stuff subject to the notification of appropriate standards and regulation under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (34 of 2006) by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.”

But the new directive undoes this rule. Now bags made of recycled plastic can be used for packing as well as carrying ready-to-eat food or drink items.

“The Union environment ministry’s decision is shocking. We are reviewing this notification and will soon raise it with the Union government,” said Atin Biswas, programme director, waste management, Centre for Science and Environment.

The use of recycled plastic for food packaging is not allowed in any developed country, claimed Biswas. Instead, they have strict rules to prohibit use of recycled plastic, especially in packaging of food products.

Biswas added that the possibility of presence of poisonous substance in recycled plastic bags can never be completely ruled out, as different types of plastics are used in recycled plastics.  

 The environment ministry had issued a notification on the Plastic Waste Management Revised Rules, 2021, on August 12, 2021, seeking to ban 20 identified, single-use plastic products by the end of 2022.

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