With effect from March 1, 2019, India has completely prohibited the import of solid plastic waste/scrap by amending the Hazardous Waste (Management & Trans-boundary Movement) Rules. This updates a 2015 ban, which was amended to allow plastic waste imports to continue in Special Economic Zones (SEZs), as well as by export oriented units (EOUs). After a ban was imposed by China a few years ago, India had emerged as one of the world’s largest importers of plastic waste.
The amendment was driven by the huge gap between waste generation and recycling capacity in the country and India’s commitment to completely phase out single-use plastic by 2022. As per a study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), of the 25,940 tons of plastic waste generated in India day, over 40% (10,376 tons) remains uncollected in the country. 56% of plastic waste produced in India is recycled largely an informal sector activity that involves collection and separation of plastic waste. Large inadequacy in capacity of recycling of plastic waste leads to a chunk of such the waste remaining uncollected, causing substantial damage to soil and water bodies.