In Avani Mishra v. Union of India & Ors, NGT observed that plastic pens are covered under the definition of ‘plastic’ under Rule 3 (o) of the Plastic Waste Management Rule, 2016.
“Even though pen is not specifically mentioned under the rules, the same is certainly covered by definition of ‘plastic’ under Rule 3 (o) of the Plastic Waste Management Rule, 2016. Thus, pen is also covered by the statutory framework,” NGT declared.
The bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on January 8, 2021 directed the environment ministry to finalise the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) regime for management of waste. The bench also asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to coordinate with the state PCBs and State Level Monitoring Committees on EPR.
The bench was hearing a petition by Avani Mishra, in grievance against unchecked use of plastic pens having adverse impact on the environment. She claimed that 91 per cent of the plastic waste so generated is not recycled. She thus suggested the introduction of “buy back” policy while claiming that extended producer’s liability is not duly being enforced.
The Tribunal decided to hear this case along with a similar case, i.e. Central Pollution Control Board v. State of Andaman & Nicobar & Ors.
A report submitted by The Central Pollution Control Board on 11.06.2020 stated that:
“The items covered under EPR in PWM Rules, 2018 are multi-layered plastic sachet or pouches or packaging, thus, items such as plastic pens and other plastic products have not been covered under Extended Producers Liabilities”
Further, under the National Framework for EPR under PWM Rules, 2018, three different models have been suggested for the Producers, Importers and Brand Owners to implement the EPR mechanism.
The applicant in justifying the impossibility for the Local Bodies to collect and treat the waste as contemplated under the rules submitted that 27 lakh pens are produced per day. She said that there is Policy Gap as pens do not find specific mention in the policies on waste management.
“The cost of refill is high which encourages purchase of fresh pens and consumerism instead of going for refills to avoid waste. The waste is at times burnt causing pollution,” she further added.
The Tribunal thus held that although "plastic pen" is not specifically mentioned under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2018, they are covered under Rule 3(o)of the Plastic Waste Management Rule, 2016.