The Tamil Nadu government has banned multilayer plastic packaging of items even at the manufacturing stage, according to a report by the Press Trust of India. The state government has now repealed the previously granted exemption to manufacturers of packaged food that allowed them to manufacture and distribute their pre-packaged food items like biscuits, chips, etc., in plastic packing material.
The order came into effect on 5 June and appears to be an effort by the state government to augment its plastic ban policy to achieve a plastic pollution-free state. Tamil Nadu had banned single-use plastic items, including water pouches, effective from 1 January 2019 in a government order, but omitted the exemption for “plastic bags which constitute or form an integral part of the packaging in which goods are sealed prior to use at manufacturing/processing units.”
Food processing companies that use plastic for packaging eatables, snacks, etc., will not be able to market their products using plastic packaging. However, among exemptions that continue to be in place include plastic used for packing milk and milk products, oil, medicine, medical equipment, plastic carry bags manufactured exclusively for export orders in a plastic industry located in a Special Economic Zone and Export Oriented Units.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry has strongly objected to the ban issued by the Tamil Nadu government. Its senior president S Rethinavelu said no viable and cost-effective alternative has been found for plastic for packaging food products, especially for vacuum packaging for more shelf life, nitrogen blown packaging to maintain crispness of the product and safety, The Times of India reported in a separate report. Chamber president N Jegatheesan said that with no adequate financial resources to erect new machinery amid pandemic, even if an alternative material is found, industries in Tamil Nadu may opt for permanent closure or shift their units to other states.