The Tamil Nadu Pondy Plastic Association has approached Madras High Court complaining that a piquant situation prevails in Tamil Nadu, with plastic manufacturers not being able to obtain Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR) authorisation from the Central Pollution Control Board, since the State government is refusing to issue Consent to Operate (CTO) certificates, in view of the ban on single-use plastic products.
A Division Bench of Justices V.M. Velumani and V. Lakshminarayanan has ordered notices, returnable by June 8, to the Centre and the State government.
In his affidavit, the association’s president G. Sankaran said that the situation in T.N. has worked to the benefit of plastic manufacturers from others States, as they could easily obtain the EPR authorisation whereas domestic manufacturers were put to a great disadvantage. The petitioner’s counsel R. Saravanakumar told the Bench that the State government had issued an order on June 25, 2018, imposing a blanket ban on single-use plastics such as carry bags, flags, food wrapping sheets, dining table spreads, plates, tea cups, tumblers, water pouches and straws. The G.O. was upheld by the High Court on December 27, 2018 with a direction to consider banning exempted plastic products too.
The petitioner association filed a review petition against the court order, and when it was pending adjudication, another G.O. was issued on June 5, 2020 imposing a blanket ban on several other plastic products including packets used for selling milk and milk products, biscuits, oil, shampoo, medicines, medical equipment and other such goods that come packed in plastic pouches, wrappers and packets from manufacturing facilities.
Though plastic manufacturers in Tamil Nadu were prevented from manufacturing such plastics, these products continued to be used in the State, brought in from other States, the association said. The Centre, on the other hand, had now come up with a new concept of EPR which placed the onus of recycling/reuse of plastics on manufacturers themselves by insisting upon the creation of a robust mechanism for collection and reuse.
Plastic manufacturers in the State were unable to obtain EPR authorisation since it was mandatory to submit a ‘Consent to Establish/Consent to Operate’ certificate which was not being issued in Tamil Nadu since the State government was yet to obtain permission from another Division Bench of Justices S. Vaidyanathan and P.T. Asha of the High Court to modify the 2020 G.O., the counsel said. He also told the Bench that the government had however expressed its intent to modify the G.O. before the Division Bench during the hearing of the review petition and the case had been posted for hearing on June 5.