India implements ban on imports of plastic waste

The Indian Government has banned all imports of solid plastics waste as part of a drive to tackle pollution and littering.

India generates almost 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste a day, 40 per cent of which remains uncollected. The new ban, in effect since 1 March 2019, is part of a wider plan by the government to reduce levels of plastic pollution, after it pledged in 2018 to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.

The ban will see all imports of solid plastic waste prohibited through an amendment to the country’s 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), areas that offer financial incentives to local businesses to encourage development and foreign investment.

Despite the 2015 ban, imports have increased in India due to the fallout from China’s ban on the import of 24 grades of solid waste last year. As China was previously the world’s largest importer of foreign wastes, other export markets, especially in South and Southeast Asia, have been flooded with waste no longer accepted in China.