New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the authorities of all the states to explore possibility of introducing use of bio-degradable plastic bags instead of polythene bags of any thickness.
"We consider it appropriate to direct the authorities concerned in all the states to explore the possibility of introducing use of bio-degradable or compostable plastic bags as opposed to polythene plastic bags of any thickness," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The bench gave the direction while upholding Chandigarh administration`s July 2008 notification banning use and manufacture of plastic bags there, saying it "is a step towards better environmental administration and in larger public interest".
The bench asked the states to consider bio-degradeable or compostable plastic bags as an alternative to polythene bags of any thickness as "environmental consequences of such plastic waste in solid waste are well known as it takes hundreds of years to degrade and fill up landfill sites".
"Plastic litter can also lead to clogged drains, which result in sanitation, flooding and sewage problems," it noted.
It also said that many countries have largely replaced the use of plastic bags by either switching over to re-usable bags, bio-degradable or compostable bags, but in India share of plastic waste in total municipal solid waste has risen from around half per cent in 1996 to over nine per cent in 2005.
"Almost half of this waste comprises used plastic bags and packaging material," it said.
The tribunal made the observations in its 34-page verdict dismissing the plea of two Chandigarh-based plastic bags and packaging material manufacturers which had challenged the notification on the ground that no such decision has been taken by the states of Punjab and Haryana.
The bench rejected the contention, saying Chandigarh administration has no control over states of Punjab and Haryana and "it is for those states to issue such notifications in that behalf".
The notification of July 30, 2008 imposed a ban only on
polythene carry bags and not on other packaging plastic or polythene material like plastic rolls and all kinds of industrial and food packaging material.
The bench also rejected the companies` plea that since the ban extended only to plastic bags and not all plastic goods, the notification was discriminatory.