The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to finalize the draft Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Amendment Regulations, 2020 within three months.
The green panel also directed the concerned authorities to consider the issue of the use of plastic bottles and multi-layered plastic packages for packaging of carbonated soft drinks, liquor and other items.
The draft Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Amendment Regulations, 2020 relates to Specific Migration Limits of Antinomy and Phthalic acid, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and packaging of drinking water.
An NGT bench headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel asked FSSAI to finalise the draft regulations as far as possible within three months from today which may be enforced and monitored through a credible monitoring mechanism.
"The issue so far considered appears to deal only with the remedial action against the adverse effect of the packaging of drugs for vulnerable groups but 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, including the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)," the NGT said.
The NGT was hearing a petition by an NGO Him Jagriti Uttaranchal Welfare Society seeking consideration for restriction on the use of plastic bottles and multi-layered plastic packages for packaging of carbonated soft drink, liquor and other items, in view of the adverse impact of such packaging on the environment and public health.
The use of plastics, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and multi-layered packs such as Tetra Packs has an adverse impact on health and the environment, the plea said, adding that it also results in an increase in plastic waste.
The NGT noted that in view of the revision of the Pharmacopeia, the adverse health effect of plastic packaging has been regulated to an extent.
While further steps may be desirable, the same need to be considered in phases as may be found viable, the NGT said.
The NGT said that the matter is required to be primarily dealt with by the concerned Executive authorities, and it does 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.
"However, it is necessary to ensure that compliance of the norms is duly monitored at the appropriate level of the Health Ministry to safeguard the health of the citizens," the NGT said.
The NGT also taken note of the report of the FSSAI filed on February 14, 2020, which mentions the steps taken by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) regulation and recycling of plastic.
Counsel for the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) pointed out that the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 deals with the standards for safe use. Vide Notification dated September 29, 2014, the Ministry of Health has published draft rules for the prohibition of the use of Polyethylene Terephthalate 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. (ANI)