This recent notification by Himachal Pradesh High Court directing the state government to ban the sale, storage, entry and manufacture of non-essential food items packaged in non-biodegradable material in the state by January 26 will prove havoc for the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) segment. The list of food items includes chips, chocolates, biscuits, ‘namkeen’, noodles, Ice Creams and beverages.
A division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice VK Sharma last Thursday directed the government to ensure edible oils and fats are not sold in plastic bottles and pouches, but rather packed in tin containers. The ban excludes drinking water, both packed and mineral
In its January 10 order, court had said — “We are not in any manner issuing directions that such items are banned because that is not within the purview of the court but if we follow the Himachal Pradesh Non-Biodegradable (Control) Act of 1995, the least we can do is to direct that these harmful items should be sold only in bio-degradable packing.” It said such packing might increase cost of products, “but it would be worth paying that extra money to protect environment and health of the children”.
Major stakeholders affected by this ban are preparing to move the Supreme Court but in the meantime it will be an uphill task for the state government to implement the orders. When asked RK Aggarwal, Vice President (North Zone) of The All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA) whether in fact going the bio-degradable way is in fact the future, he replied by saying that a ban is not a solution. He added, “For a common man, the term bio-degradability has a lot of ambiguity around it. Authorities need to first define the specifications of bio-degradability. Moreover, at present commercial availability of bio-degradable resins is not available in the country.”
KP Mohandas, secretary general of IBMA, said the court order is clearly against the interest of consumers, industry and trade. “We have been consulting the Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) about introducing bio-degradable packaging. The director told us clearly that no such technology is available in the country for biodegradable packaging of mass food products such as biscuits. We are very disappointed with the order,” he said.
This ban might also imply then that brands need to have separate packaging for products that are retailed in the state of Himachal Pradesh, which is not a viable case. The state government is waiting to receive court orders and directives after which the ban will be implemented. “I believe regulating this ban will be an uphill task. Moreover, it might also affect tourism in the state to a certain extent. Instead of banning items, the government should really be working at fine-tuning the collection and sorting of post-consumer waste,” said Aggarwal.
Now being packaging professionals our concern is why it’s always plastics that is targeted and blamed for all environment hazards that happen?? Isn’t it better if govt comes up with guidelines and better procedures to collect waste and further recycles it? There are associations, NGOs who make beautiful products out of recycled plastics, laminates and waste – why not promote these and support the industry.
Secondly if they are banning plastics for snack foods, what options do they have for industry – should be simply ban these products since alone neither paper nor metal packaging is a solutions for these products
Hope this information helps you in some of your decisions, we do look forward to your inputs and discussions here,