September 14, 2020

NGT directs CPCB to recover fine from Amazon, Flipkart for excessive plastic packaging

[ by Legal Era News Network ]


The National Green Tribunal (NGT) – observing that the statutory regulators were not taking coercive measures, including invoking of “polluter pays” principle for enforcing the statutory norms – has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to conduct environmental audit and recover fine from e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart for violation of environmental norms.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said, “A report has been filed by the CPCB on 04.09.2020 which again mentions one or other reasons for not enforcing the law but does not mention the coercive measures adopted either directly by CPCB or in coordination with the State PCBs/PCCs. The CPCB can also consider ordering environmental audit against the concerned entities and assess and recover compensation for violation of environmental norms, following due process of law.”  It further said, “The member secretary, CPCB may remain present in person during the hearing on the next date through video conferencing.”

The tribunal sought an action taken report in the matter before October 14, the next date by e-mail.

The CPCB had earlier informed the NGT that e-commerce giants need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, and need to establish a system for collecting back the plastic waste generated due to the packaging of their products.

The CPCB had told the NGT that as per provisions 9(2) of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, “Primary responsibility for collection of used multi-layered plastic sachet or pouches or packaging is of producers, importers and brand owners who introduce the products in the market.”

Aditya Dubey, the petitioner – through his legal guardian – has pleaded the NGT to direct Amazon and Flipkart to stop excessive use of plastic in packaging the goods delivered by the firms.

The applications seek enforcement of ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. The petition sought enforcement of the liability against Amazon and Flipkart using excessive plastic packaging material without meeting statutory liability.

“The e-commerce companies are covered under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. But due to a lack of monitoring and implementation, the respondents continue to use excessive amounts of plastic in wrapping and packaging their sold items,” said the plea, filed through advocate Meenesh Dubey.

Mr. Dubey’s plea had contended that the companies deliver items in cardboard boxes, which are too large as compared to the size of the items being delivered.

“To ensure that the sold items do not move around in the outsized boxes, they wrap the items in multiple layers of plastic sheets and plastic bubble wraps and thereafter fill the large empty spaces in the boxes with additional sheets of single-use plastic,” it had said.

According to the petition, once goods are delivered, the plastic waste is thrown away in garbage and it ends up at landfill sites, leading to a burden on the earth and damaging the environment. “The fact that it’s non-biodegradable and is recycled in very small percentages means that our planet with passage of time is becoming a big dumping ground for single-use plastic, which breaks down into smaller fragments known as micro-plastics and then contaminates soil and water,” the petition had said.

The concept of Extended Producer’s Responsibility was incorporated in the Indian legislative framework under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 which cast a responsibility on the producers/ brand owners to ensure “environmentally sound management” of the product, until the end of its life. To this end they may implement a ‘take back system’ or set up ‘collection centres’ or both.

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