The Centre on Wednesday announced amended rules prohibiting the import of solid plastic waste into India, including in special economic zones and export-oriented units. The government had banned the import of such waste in 2015, but the following year, had allowed those imports that were carried out by agencies situated in special economic zones.

The loophole had led to an increase in imports of polyethylene terephthalate or PET bottle scrap and flakes from 12,000 tonnes in 2016-’17 to 48,000 tonnes in 2017-’18, The Hindu had reported in January, citing data from Delhi-based organisation Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Manch.

The new amendment was made to the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said it would help “strengthen the implementation of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in the country”.

The ministry said that the amendment also simplified procedures, while “upholding the principles of sustainable development and ensuring minimal impact on the environment”.

Other amended rules exempted silk waste exporters from requiring permissions from the ministry and allowed electrical and electronic material exported from India to be imported back within a year if found defective.

Satish Sinha, associate director at non-profit Toxics Link, told The New Indian Express that after China banned the import of plastic scrap last year, there were apprehensions that imports to other Asian countries would increase as Western economies do not have enough capacity to recycle plastic.