The Times of India reported that on September 17, 2021, India amended their Plastic Waste Management Rules to allow recycled plastic in food contact materials (FCMs). According to the amendment, recycled plastic “can be used for storing, carrying, dispensing, or packaging ready to eat or drink food stuff” as long as it follows the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, and therefore packaging laws that fall under the umbrella of the Food Safety and Standards Act. The change came into effect six days after the notification was posted.  

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had banned the use of recycled plastics in food contact in 2016. According to The Times of India, the recent change “has shocked experts and environmental activists.” They quote Vijay Habbu of the Institute of Chemical Technology that each time a plastic product is recycled “there is some degradation of the plastic with a generation of contaminants or impurities. In most cases the contaminants aren’t even known. Hence, there aren’t reliable test methods to detect and determine the impurities that can seriously pose a threat to human life and environment.” 

Previous studies of FCMs and other consumer products made of recycled plastics have found them to contain high levels of contaminants including pesticides, rare earth elements, flame retardants, and other substances (FPF reported, also here and here). Other reports have highlighted that eliminating chemicals of concern from plastic waste is essential to upscale plastic recycling (FPF reported), and several organizations have published guidelines for the creation of safer plastics recycling programs (FPF reported). The UN Development Program of India and the Indian policy think-tank NITI Aayog recently published a handbook on sustainable urban plastic waste management in India.  


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Chittaranjan Tembhekar (September 25, 2021). “Centre climbdown on use of recycled plastic containers for food items worries experts.” The Times of India 

Siddharth Ghanshyam Singh (September 30, 2021). “Why new rule allowing recycled plastic in food packaging raises concerns.” Down To Earth 

Ajoy K Das (October 14, 2021). “India reverses ban on using recycled plastic in FCMs.” Chemical Watch 

UNDP and NITI Aayog (October 14, 2021). “Sustainable Urban Plastic Waste Management.”