Indian laws require various compliances and registrations for a business to commence. A business must first get incorporated as a registered entity (e.g.: private limited company, limited liability partnership etc.) and thereafter, obtain requisite tax registrations like GST (Goods and Service Tax), PAN (Permanent Account Number), etc. Businesses also must take care of applicable labour law compliances and social security registrations like The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, The Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, etc. In addition to the above, there are other kinds of registrations and compliances applicable on respective industries, for instance, FSSAI license for food industries, CDSCO license for drugs and cosmetics industries. Further, to protect innovation and other related intangible assets and to set one’s business apart from competitors, businesses seek to register their intellectual property rights including trademarks, copyrights, designs, patents etc. All this while, environmental norms and regulations are also to be adhered to as required by the Government under the respective applicable laws.
Amongst a plethora of compliances referred above, the Government through the Ministry of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has recently introduced a new environmental compliance under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. It is applicable on all registered brand owners, wherein they are mandatorily required to obtain registration under the Rules.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has amended the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 (hereinafter referred to as “Parent Rules”) and notified the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018 (hereinafter referred to as “Amendment Regulations”) on March 27, 2018.
Registration of Producers and Brand owners
The Parent Rules imposed obligations on producers, i.e., persons engaged in manufacture or import of plastic bags or plastic sheets, including industries or individuals using plastic sheets for packaging or wrapping commodities, to obtain registration from the concerned authority. This provision has now been amended to include brand owners to obtain registration as well. Brand owners have been defined in the Parent Rules to mean a person or company who sells any commodity under a registered brand. Hence, companies or individuals selling commodities under a registered trademark will now have an additional compliance to obtain registration under the Amendment Rules.
However, an ambiguity arises with respect to the definition of the term “commodity”. As commodity has been broadly defined to mean a tangible item that may be bought or sold and includes all marketable goods or wares, therefore, the question arises whether all companies and individuals selling commodities under a brand or trademark are under obligation to obtain the said registration or whether the intent of the Parent Rules, i.e., to have an effective plastic waste management system, is to be interpreted to mean that companies or individuals selling commodities under a registered brand and which are using plastic for packaging such commodities are under obligation to obtain the registration. It is hoped that a clarification is given by the government in this regard.
Requisite Authority to obtain registration
The registration under the Amendment Rules is required to be obtained by the producers and brand owners from the concerned State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control committee if they are operating in 1 or 2 States or Union Territories. In case the producer or brand owner is operating in more than 2 States or Union Territories, the registration is to be obtained by the Central Pollution Control Board.
The Amendment Rules lay down the phasing out of manufacture and use of multilayered plastic which is non-recyclable or non-energy recoverable or with no alternate use. The Parent Rules laid down a broader restriction by prescribing phasing out of non- recyclable multilayered plastic.
Further, the provision under the Parent Rules requiring shopkeepers and street vendors willing to provide plastic carry bags for dispensing any commodity to register with a local body has been omitted.