New Delhi, Oct 27 (): PET bottle manufacturers are a relived lot after the decision by SC on Friday to a plea against MP High Court order and deny a ban on Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) packaging. PET industry is worth Rs 4,000-crore.
Green activists are worried over the likely environmental damage and harmful effect polymer resin of the polyester family getting exposed to reactions from the medicines and liquor packed in the bottle.
The country’s soft drink market is the primary consumer for PET bottles. In volume terms, 65 per cent of soft drinks now come in PET bottles, making it a more vital factor of the booming soft drink market. The other major user industries include drugs, drinking water, edible oil, milk, spices, honey, pickles, ketchup and confectioneries.
In June 2013, the MP High Court dismissed a public interest suit (PIL) filed by the Prani Mitra Samiti (Pramisha), a non-governmental organization (NGO), seeking a ban on the use of PET for packaging of beverages. MP court turned down the plea and this was challenged in SC which favoured the High Court verdict.
According to the Food Safety Act, PET packaging has been certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) 26 years ago. This SC ruling would be a boost for the country’s PET industry, having 18 per cent annual growth rate for the past two years.
Also, the PET raw material industry is planning to expand its capacity from 1.2 million tonnes to three million tonnes. 60,000 tonnes are used by the domestic industry, the rest is exported.
PILs were filed in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, saying PET polluted beverages and caused environmental hazard, all these pleas were rejected by several courts.
Bisleri International, the largest user of PET bottles for packaging drinking water, said Courts are not getting misled by false propaganda. PET bottles and plastics were the only packaging materials that can be recycled more than once. The court verdict will make people aware of the facts the industry was trying hard to express, said Bisleri.
Environmentalists say scientific studies by independent groups show chemical elements in PET bottles react with chemical components in drugs and cause leaching in different temperature conditions. These companies might have BIS clearances but the government should consider this on the basis of fresh studies. NGO’s approached the health ministry for a ban on PET packaging for medicines, as leaching will have carcinogenic impact. The health ministry has set up an expert committee to look into the issue.