How to import plastic waste in India?

Importing plastic waste into India involves a series of steps and adherence to various regulations and guidelines set by the Indian government. India is reckoned as one of the largest consumers of plastic products, and the demand for recycled plastic is growing. Importing plastic waste can be a lucrative business, but following the correct procedures and meeting all legal requirements is essential. In this comprehensive blog, we will outline the steps and considerations involved in importing plastic waste into India.

1. Understand the Regulations and Restrictions

Before you begin importing plastic waste into India, you must understand the relevant regulations and restrictions. The Indian government has laid down specific rules and regulations that importers must adhere to:

A. The Plastic Waste Management Rules:

The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, are a set of regulations notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in India. These rules provide guidelines for importing, recycling and managing plastic waste. Besides, the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2022 also frame guidelines for importing plastic responsibly.

B. Basel Convention:

India is a party to the Basel Convention (BC), an international treaty aimed at controlling the transboundary movement of hazardous waste (HW). As a result, certain types of plastic waste may be subject to extra restrictions and regulations.

C. Importer Exporter Code (IEC):

To import any goods, including plastic waste, into India, you must obtain an Importer Exporter Code or IEC from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade or DGFT.

D. Pre-Shipment Inspection:

Certain types of plastic waste may require pre-shipment inspection by authorised agencies to ensure compliance with quality and safety standards.

E. Other Regulatory Authorities:

Depending on the type of plastic waste you intend to import, you may need approvals or permits from other regulatory bodies like the Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB, State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs), or the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change .

It's essential to thoroughly research and understand these regulations to ensure a smooth and compliant import process.

2. Determine the Type of Plastic waste to Import

Plastic waste can come in various forms, such as PET bottles, HDPE containers, LDPE films, and PVC products. The type of plastic waste you intend to import will affect the licensing and approval requirements. Ensure that you know the specific classification of your plastic waste to comply with the rules.

3. Establish a Business Entity

You must establish a business entity to import plastic waste into India. You can either set up a new business or operate as an importer under an existing company. The choice of business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company) depends on your preferences and long-term business plans.

4. Obtain an Importer Exporter Code (IEC)

Before importing any goods, you must obtain an Importer Exporter Code (IEC) from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). The IEC is a unique 10-digit code mandatory for all import-export transactions in India. The application for an IEC can be made online through the DGFT's official website.

5. Choose a Port of Entry

Select a suitable port of entry for your plastic waste imports. India has several major import ports and entry points, including Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, and more. The port choice depends on factors like proximity to suppliers, transportation infrastructure, and your business location.

6. Research and Identify Suppliers

You'll need to find reliable suppliers or exporters in other countries to source plastic waste. Perform due diligence on potential suppliers to ensure they meet your quality and quantity requirements. Consider factors such as the supplier's reputation, experience, and adherence to international shipping standards.

7. Negotiate Terms and Conditions

Negotiate the terms and conditions of your import transactions with the selected suppliers. This includes the price, quantity, quality specifications, payment terms, and delivery schedules. It's advisable to consult with legal experts like EcoserveIndia or use trade agreements to formalise these negotiations.

8. Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses

Depending on the type of plastic waste you plan to import, you may need additional permits and licenses. Some categories of plastic waste may require specific approvals from regulatory bodies like the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Ensure that you fulfil all the requirements to avoid any legal issues.

9. Set Up a Clearing and Forwarding Agent

A clearing and forwarding (C&F) agent is vital to the import process. They are responsible for handling customs clearance, documentation, and transportation logistics. Engage a reputable C&F agent with experience handling plastic waste imports to ensure a hassle-free process.

10. Prepare Documentation

Prepare all the required documentation for your plastic waste import. This includes:

A. Bill of Entry

This legal document contains details about the imported goods, including quantity, value, and description.

B. Invoice

The supplier should provide you with a commercial invoice detailing the cost of the plastic waste.

C. Packing List

This document outlines the contents and packaging details of the shipment.

D. Certificate of Origin

This certifies the country of origin of the plastic waste.

E. Pre-Shipment Inspection Certificate (if required)

Certain types of plastic waste may need inspection certificates to ensure quality and safety standards.

F. Import License (if required)

If your specific category of plastic waste necessitates a license, ensure to obtain it.

11. Customs Clearance

Your C&F agent will handle the customs clearance process, which includes submitting the necessary documentation to customs authorities. Be prepared for customs inspections and provide any requested information promptly.

12. Pay Customs Duties and Taxes

Upon clearing customs, you will need to pay customs duties and taxes. These fees vary based on factors like the type of plastic waste, its value, and applicable trade agreements. Ensure that you have the required funds available for this purpose.

13. Transport and Warehousing

Coordinate transportation and warehousing facilities for your plastic waste. Consider the storage requirements for different types of plastic waste, as some may need special handling due to temperature or moisture sensitivity.

14. Comply with Environmental Regulations

Ensure you comply with environmental regulations, especially the Plastic Waste Management Rules (2016). You may need to obtain approvals from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) or State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) to operate your recycling facilities.

15. Monitor and Report Compliance

After importing plastic waste, it's essential to maintain records and report on your activities to regulatory bodies as required. This includes reporting the quantities of plastic waste generated, processed, and disposed of, per the Plastic Waste Management Rules.

16. Environmental Responsibility

Importing plastic waste brings environmental responsibilities. Ensure that your recycling or disposal processes adhere to environmental standards and guidelines. Work on promoting sustainable and eco-friendly practices in your business.

17. Market Your Recycled Products

After processing the imported plastic waste, market the recycled products to manufacturers or consumers. Developing a network of potential buyers is essential to maintain a steady business flow.

18. Compliance with the Basel Convention

If your plastic waste falls under the Basel Convention's scope, comply with the regulations and procedures outlined in the treaty. This may involve additional documentation and communication with the Convention's focal point in India.

19. Stay Updated on Regulatory Changes

Keep yourself updated on any changes in regulations or policies related to importing plastic waste in India. The government may modify rules and restrictions, and staying informed is crucial for maintaining compliance.

20. Consider Sustainability and Circular Economy Practices

In the wake of growing environmental concerns, consider adopting sustainable practices and contributing to the circular economy. This may involve exploring ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic waste.


Importing plastic waste into India can be a rewarding business endeavour, both financially and environmentally. However, it's vital to navigate the regulatory landscape, adhere to environmental standards, and prioritise sustainability. Following the steps outlined in this guide and staying compliant with Indian regulations, you can successfully import plastic waste and contribute to the nation's efforts in managing plastic waste and promoting recycling.

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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