Centre grants 1-month extension to scrap recycling units in SEZs

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on August 11, 2020

Apt policy for recycling units in SEZs to soon be finalised

The Centre has decided to extend the validity of listed plastic and clothing recycling units in three special economic zones in Kandla (Gujarat), Falta (Kolkata) and Noida (Uttar Pradesh) by another month till September 30 this year and has sought early conclusion of inter-departmental consultations to finalise a policy for the same.

The recycling units, that were given a three-month extension on May 31, 2020, had been stopped from importing any item prohibited by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

“The one-month validity extension has been given by the Board of Approval (BoA) for SEZs to the 47 listed plastic and clothing recycling units in its recent meeting. This gives the various Ministries involved with the decision some more time to come up with an apt policy for recycling units located in the zones. Since the extended time-period is short, the departments involved are expected to act fast,” a government official aware of the development told BusinessLine.

Import of virgin scrap

One of the proposals being examined is the use of imported virgin scrap as raw material by the units but a decision is yet to be take, the official added.

In March 2019, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) had prohibited import of solid plastics waste in SEZs and Export Oriented Units (EoUs) but, a few dozen plastic recycling units were exempted from this. Till that time, only SEZs and Export Oriented Units were allowed to run recycling units as the government had banned issue of new licenses for such units in the country almost twenty years ago.

After China imposed a ban on import of recycled waste in 2017, the US — one of the largest waste exporter — shifted its focus to South Asia including Malaysia, Thailand and India. In 2018, it reportedly exported 294 million pounds of scrap plastic to India.

“The import of waste scrap from the developed world, especially the US, was becoming unsustainable for India. The idea behind the complete ban proposed by the MoEF was to minimise hazardous waste collection in the country. However, the fate of the active units in SEZs has to be decided by all Ministries concerned as the complete implementation of the ban will lead to a total closure of the units,” the official said.

Panel to look in to recycling

The BoA had constituted a Committee on plastic waste recycling and worn and used clothing whose recommendations are being taken up by the Directorate General of Export Promotion under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and other stakeholder departments. “A policy on renewal of Letter of Approval of such units shall soon be formulated, hopefully before September 30, 2020,” the official said.

Published on August 11, 2020

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