Plastics are the inexpensive and durable substances which are attributable to their useful properties can cater multiple needs in the form of utensils, instruments, carry bags, packaging material, insulations, furniture, floor tiles, home décor items, toys, etc. However, the increased reliance on plastics has caused detrimental impact on their improper disposal. Owing to their chemical composition, plastics are resistant to the natural process of degradation and accumulate in the environment thus polluting the same. Interfering with the living organisms of all stages of ecosystem, available at the disposal site, they tend to cause damage to their lifecycles.

Dealing with the plastic menace

Meticulous planning and widespread awareness have been the tools of the Government to counter the ill-effects of plastic in the environment.

In order to give thrust on plastic waste minimization, source segregation, recycling, involving waste pickers, recyclers and waste processors in collection of plastic waste fraction either from households or any other source of its generation or intermediate material recovery facility and to adopt polluter’s pay principle for the sustainability of the waste management system, the Central Government enforced the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011(hereinafter referred to as “Rules”).

Focussing on the objective of environmental protection and creation of legal framework in this regard, the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) was enforced. The provisions of the Act provide for the founding of a regulatory body - the National Green Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as “NGT”) which aims towards effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The judicial view…

In order to tackle the problem of waste management in respect to the industries involved in manufacture of plastic products, the NGT ordered for the appointment of a committee of Central Pollution Control Board and Delhi Pollution Control Committee vide its order dated September 18, 2018. 

An application had been made to the NGT regarding the pollution being caused by the plastic industry making shoe soles and other plastic goods such as rexine, adhesive and other highly inflammable items in Narela and Bawana area. It was contended that flouting the pollution and waste management norms, the industrialists were not disposing their industrial wastes properly creating problem to residents and the environment thus being a health hazard.

With the objective of strengthening the regime of the environmental protection laws, the NGT has ordered for taking appropriate action by the establishment of a committee for dealing with the problems caused by the environmental pollution due to plastic wastes. The report of the said committee shall be taken into consideration by the NGT while deliberating and concluding its decision on the industrialists involved in improper plastic waste management. The NGT has also reinforced the fact that its orders have to be binding as a decree of court making the parties liable for their deeds and subject them to punitive action in event of non-compliance.