The National Green Tribunal has directed the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to finalise the draft Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Amendment Regulations, 2020 within three months.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the issue of use of plastic bottles and multi layered plastic packages for packaging of carbonated soft drinks, liquor and other items also needs to be further considered by the concerned authorities.
"The FSSAI may finalise the draft regulations as far as possible within three months which may be enforced and monitored through a credible monitoring mechanism," the bench said.
The regulations relate to specific migration limits of Antinomy and Phthalic acid, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and Packaging of Drinking Water.
The NGT was hearing a petition filed by NGO Him Jagriti Uttaranchal Welfare Society seeking ban on the use of plastic bottle and multi-layered/plastic packages /pet bottles.
Use of plastics, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and multi-layered packs such as Tetra Packs, has an adverse impact on health and environment, the plea said, adding that it also results in increase in plastic waste.
The Directorate General Of Health Services told the NGT that the Ministry of Health has published draft rules for prohibition of use of Polyethylene Teraphthalate or plastic containers in liquid oral formulations for primary packaging of drug formulations for pediatric use, geriatric use and for use in case of pregnant women and women of reproductive age group.
With respect to standards of plastic containers and primary packaging of pharmaceuticals, all containers and closures intended for use shall comply with the Pharmacopeia (systems of medicines which are officially recognised by the parties,) and other specified requirements.
"Suitable sample sizes, specifications, test methods, cleaning procedures and sterilization procedures, shall be used to assure that containers, closures and other component parts of drug packages are suitable and are not reactive, additive, adsorptive or leachable or presents the risk of toxicity to an extent that significantly affects the quality or purity of the drug.
"No second hand or used containers and closures shall be used. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to follow the Standards laid down in Indian Pharmacopoeia," the tribunal was informed.
The tribunal said that in view of the revision of the Pharmacopeia, the adverse health effect of plastic packaging has been regulated to an extent.
"The matter being required to be primarily dealt with by the concerned Executive authorities, we do not consider it necessary to pass any further order in exercise of jurisdiction under Sections 14 and 15 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010," the bench said.
However, it is necessary to ensure that compliance of the norms is duly monitored at appropriate level of the Health Ministry to safeguard the health of the citizens, the tribunal said.