How to become CPCB certified compostable plastic bag seller in India?

It is a common sight nowadays that roadsides and highways, empty spaces, vacant plots, food streets, areas around garbage bins, nearby dump yards, etc., are highly polluted with plastic waste. Plastic littering in the form of carrying bags can be spotted all over. This harms the environment and affects the animals, sea life and, ultimately, human health. Taking note of the problem, the Government of India (GOI) implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags and introduced the Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWM). Thus, it is high time to switch to sustainable alternatives like compostable plastic carry bags. One way to promote this is by becoming a CPCB-certified compostable plastic bag seller in India.

Notably, the sales of compostable plastic bags are predicted to record a CAGR of 7.5% during the forecast period. No wonder the increasing demand for plastic alternatives and awareness towards human health and the environment is the reason for the skyrocketing selling of compostable plastic bags. Read the complete blog to know more about how to start selling compostable plastic bags in India.

What is compostable plastic?

As defined in Rule 3(e) of PWM rules, Compostable plastic is a plastic that undergoes degradation by biological processes during composting to give water, CO2, inorganic compounds and biomass at a rate in line with other known compostable materials, except conventional petro-based plastics and doesn't leave distinguishable, visible or toxic residue.

Features of compostable plastic bags

  • Compostable packaging bags decompose quickly under the proper environmental conditions, typically breaking down within three to six months.
  • Once fully decomposed, these bags leave no signs of their existence, benefiting soil quality and significantly decreasing landfill waste.
  • Compostable packaging has a small carbon footprint.

Is compostable and biodegradable the same?

Certainly not! Compostable and biodegradable are not at all interchangeable terms. The term biodegradable means materials that will decompose naturally over time. On the other hand, compostable means materials that decompose into non-toxic and organic elements that benefit the environment.

How do compostable carry bags help reduce pollution?

Compostable plastic carry bags are made from organic matter. They decompose into natural elements when composted correctly. However, they require specific environmental conditions to do so.

Factors responsible for a rise in the sale of compostable plastic carry bags

In recent years, consumers are more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases. Consumers are even ready to pay more for sustainable products, driving the sales of compostable plastic carry bags that aren't meant for landfills. Besides, technological advancement and rising demand from various industries like packaging, automobiles, healthcare, agriculture and retail also boost the need to sell compostable plastic bags.

Benefits of compostable plastic carry bags

Compostable plastic carry bags have the following environmental benefits -

Decreases landfill waste

Even if compostable plastic carry bags are sent to landfills as general waste, they'll break down relatively quickly, depending on the environmental conditions. This, in return, decreases the landfill waste.

Fewer carbon emissions

Compostable plastic bags need less resources and energy than synthetic materials such as plastic.

Benefits the local environment

Decomposing into compost improves soil quality, supporting organic life. Composting lowers plant disease, while microorganisms thrive on organic matter. This makes compostable plastic a future-friendly option for everyone.

No allergens and toxins

Compostable plastic bags sold in the market must be made from materials that are non-toxic and free of allergens. An informed and conscious buyer will almost always choose toxins and allergens-free products rather than a packaging material having harmful chemicals like phthalates.

Improves the customer experience

Customers have various options to dispose of their carry bags when using compostable plastic responsibly. Even if they don't have the necessary plastic waste recycling, general waste facilities or composting at home, commercial composting is still available to benefit the planet.

Conditions for the sale of compostable plastic carry bags as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016

As per PWM Rules, the thickness provision does not apply to carry bags made of compostable plastic. Carry bags made from compostable plastics must conform to the Indian Standard: IS 17088:2008, titled Specifications for Compostable Plastics, as amended gradually. The compostable plastic carry bag seller must obtain a certificate from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) before selling.

Protocols for compostable plastic materials

Determination of the degree of degradability and disintegration of plastic material must be according to the protocols of the Indian Standards listed in Schedule-I to these rules.

Labelling or marking

Each carry bag made from compostable plastics must be labelled "compostable" and conform to the Indian Standard: IS or ISO 17088:2008 titled Specifications for "Compostable Plastics".

Also, according to Rule 4(h) (Conditions) of PWM Rules, 2016, the sellers of compostable plastic carry bags, commodities, or both, must obtain a CPCB certificate before selling.

SOPs for issuance of CPCB certificate to the seller of the compostable plastic carry bags

Submission of application

i. The seller of compostable plastic carry bags or commodities must apply to CPCB for registration, along with the prescribed documents and fees (as mentioned below) on the "Compostable Plastic E-Certification" portal.

ii. On receiving the application, CPCB must assign an application number and send a confirmatory e-mail to the applicant.

iii. CPCB then examines the application and communicates the queries, if any, to the applicant within one week of receiving the application.

iv. The applicant must respond to CPCB’s query and resubmit the application along with the requisite details/documents and prescribed resubmission fees.

Fees for sellers of compostable plastic carry bags or commodities or both

A uniform fee of Rs.5000 applies to compostable plastic carry bags and commodities sellers.

Checklist of documents required for certification of compostable plastic bag seller

  • i. PAN details of the firm
  • ii. Copy of registration certificate issued to the certified CPCB manufacturer for producing compostable carry bags or commodities or both granted by concerned PCC/SPCB under Rule 13(i) of PWM Rules,2018
  • iii. Authorisation letter granted to the compostable plastic bag seller from the concerned manufacturer.
  • iv. Test reports according to the Indian Standards IS/ISO 17088: 2021 - Testing has to be done at CIPET or a lab recognised under the Laboratory Recognition Scheme, 2020, of the BIS or labs accredited for this purpose by the National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories. (To be submitted only in case of import of compostable commodities)

Processing of application

  • i. CPCB evaluates the application and informs queries, if any, to the applicant within a week of receiving the application.
  • ii. The applicant must respond to CPCB's query if the applicant replies after thirty days of receiving the CPCB's query, failing which the application is considered rejected.
  • iii. The certificate is generated if CPCB doesn't send any reply to the applicant within one month of receiving the application at its office.

Issuing of certificate to the seller of the compostable plastic carry bags

i. As per Rule 4(h) of the PWM Rules 2016 as amended, a certificate is issued within seven working days of complete application submission. A copy of the certificate is given to the concerned PCC/SPCB. The format of the certificate for the seller is given in Annexure II.

ii. The certificate issued by CPCB is valid unless it is revoked for violation of norms stipulated in the certificate. However, if there is a change in the production process/raw material/product, a new application must be filed to CPCB for issuing a fresh certificate. Suppose the unit does not have a valid registration from the concerned PCC/SPCB (for SUP Manufacturers) and on the centralised EPR portal for Plastic packaging manufacturers. In that case, the certificate is issued with the condition that the seller must sell the compostable carry bags or commodities or both only after obtaining a valid registration for manufacturing of compostable carry bags or commodities or both from the concerned SPCB/PCC. The registration must be submitted to CPCB within three months of the issuing of the certificate by CPCB, failing which the certificate stands cancelled.

iii. A provisional certificate is issued in the following two cases:

(a) Interim test report according to the IS/ISO:17088, including the first two components (a) Disintegration during composting and ultimate aerobic biodegradation is submitted. The final certificate in such cases is issued on submission of a complete test report including all four components - including seed germination and heavy metal analysis test (after 180 days).

(b) If the sample has been sent for testing before the grant of Consent to Operate (CTO) from SPCB/PCC indicating the sample hasn't been manufactured at the unit under consideration, the unit must send a fresh sample manufactured at the unit for testing after the grant of the provisional certificate. In such cases, the final certificate is issued after the submission of the complete test report. The condition regarding fresh sample testing in such cases must be included in the certificate issued to the concerned unit.

(c) The validity of the provisional certificate is of six months, which can be extendable by six months, subject to the condition that the reasons given by the applicant seeking extension are found valid by CPCB. The format of the provisional certificate is given in Annexure III.

(iv) Member Secretary, CPCB is the approving authority for issuing the certificate. The Divisional Head, UPC II, CPCB, is the designated signatory on the certificate.

Monitoring mechanism

i. Each plastic carry bag or commodity or both and multi-layered packaging must have the details concerning the name and certificate number of the manufacturer [Rule 4(h)] in case of carry bags or commodities or both made from compostable plastic printed in English on the bag as per clause 11(1) of PWM Rules.

ii. Also, the manufacturer must generate a QR code depending on the info furnished in the certificate issued by CPCB. The QR code must be given on each carry bag, commodity, or both manufactured at the certified unit. The details of the QR code (password/e-mail, name, plant address, CPCB certificate no. etc.) must be shared with the SPCB/PCC/CPCB on the online portal "Compostable Plastics - E Certification".

iii. The seller must submit a six-monthly report furnishing info on raw material procurement and product sale, including GST details to CPCB on the online portal "Compostable Plastics - E Certification" according to the format in Annexure- IV.

iv. Field verification of the units must be conducted by SPCB/PCC covering at least 10% of the units in their States/UTs twice every year. The format for field verification is given in Annexure-V. Notably, the concerned authorities will conduct random checks of consignments in case of import of compostable plastics commodities.

vi. Market survey must be conducted to guarantee the availability of certified compostable carry bags, commodities, or both at the consumer end.

vii. SPCBs/PCCs must submit the six-monthly compliance report covering points i-v to CPCB on the "Compostable Plastics - E Certification" online portal. The format for the report is Annexure-VI.

viii. CPCB must independently perform field verification of the certified units yearly according to the prescribed format (Annexure - V) and market survey to evaluate the compliance of the PWM Rules concerning the sale of compostable plastics.

ix. If, at any stage, the seller of compostable bags is found to be violating the stipulated rules, the certificate issued by CPCB must stand cancelled.

Cancellation of certificate

  • i. CPCB can suspend or cancel the certificate of the compostable plastic bag seller if he fails to comply with any of the conditions of the certificate.
  • ii. If any seller is found to be violating the norms of the certificate during random checking by CPCB or depending on verification by SPCBs, a notice is issued by CPCB.
  • iii. An opportunity is given to hear the seller within fifteen days from the date of issuance of notice; before considering the case for suspension or cancellation of EPR authorisation by CPCB.
  • iv. The decision on suspension or cancellation of authorisation is informed within ten working days after the hearing.
  • v. Chairman CPCB is the final authority for deciding on suspension or cancellation.

Applicability of SOP

The given SOP applies to all applications received after the date of issue of the current SOP.

(ii) The applications under process at CPCB for the issue of certificates will be assessed according to the norms of the current SOP.

(iii) Certificates, which CPCB has already issued as of date, must be reviewed according to the norms of this SOP within three months from the issue of the current SOP and necessary action as required must be taken by the manufacturer/SPCB/PCC/CPCB. Note - The revised SOP is in accordance with the norms of the PWM Rules, 2016, as amended.

In a recent attempt to resolve a significant environmental challenge, India is eliminating single-use plastic items. This is done by implementing a ban on the sale and use of single-use plastic items. As industries and people look forward to cheap and sustainable alternatives in the form of biodegradable plastic, many options are not available. Thus, selling compostable plastic carry bags can quickly fill this void due to many of their properties and lower prices as compared to biodegradable bags. Therefore, becoming a CPCB-certified compostable plastic bag seller sounds practical and profitable.

Diksha Khiatani

A writer by day and a reader at night. Emerging from an Engineering background, Diksha has completed her M. Tech in Computer Science field. Being passionate about writing, she started her career as a Writer. She finds it interesting and always grabs time to research and write about Environmental laws and compliances. With extensive knowledge on content writing, she has been delivering high-quality write-ups. Besides, you will often find her with a novel and a cuppa!

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