How to start selling biodegradable bags in India?

A recent study has revealed that India produces nearly 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily. However, the research continues to state that 9,000 tonnes are collected and processed out of this, while 6,000 tonnes still need to be collected. India, knowing the fact that 3.5 million tonnes of plastic were produced during 2020-21 and that its recycling capacity is only half as much, determined to discontinue the import, manufacture, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single-use plastic (SUP) items that have high littering potential and low utility.

Following the ban on single-use plastic bags in many northern states earlier, individuals and shopkeepers switched to eco-friendly jute and cloth bags. However, they could only sustain it briefly as it seemed to be an expensive alternative. It was then the biodegradable bag sellers came up with an effective solution for those struggling to find a balance between the situation. After the announcement to ban single-use plastic bags, the sellers braced themselves for selling biodegradable bags produced from corn, potato and sugarcane starch. This blog highlights everything you must know about selling biodegradable plastic bags in India.

What is a biodegradable plastic bag?

Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) (PWM) Rules, 2022 defines biodegradable plastics as plastics, other than compostable plastics which undergo degradation by biological methods under ambient environment (in water or terrestrial) conditions, without leaving any microplastics, or distinguishable/visible/toxic residue, which harms the environment, complying with the laid down norms of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and certified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

What are the exceptional features of biodegradable plastic bags?

  • Biodegradable plastic bags are similar to those made from plastic but with the difference that these don't harm the environment.
  • These bags possess enough strength to carry goods.
  • Biodegradable plastic bags are thinner and get easily composted in soil.
  • Though these bags are expensive as compared to plastic bags, a way lot cheaper than jute or cloth bags.

What are the necessary conditions that ease the process of biodegradable plastic bags selling in India?

Biodegradable plastic bag sellers must have the necessary consent from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and a certificate granted by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or Pollution Control Committee (PCC).

Biodegradable plastic bags must showcase the information of the firm manufacturing the products and a QR code.

The bag must display in writing, 'This is a purely biodegradable plastic product. The biodegradable plastic bag must dissolve in methylene dichloride; this must be mentioned in the packaging bag/cover/sheet material.

Protocols for biodegradable plastic materials as per PWM Rules, 2022

Biodegradable plastic bags find a broad range of applications in the following fields -

  • (1) Determination of the degree of degradability and disintegration of plastic material must be according to the protocols of the Indian Standards mentioned in Schedule I.
  • (2) The biodegradable plastics must conform to the standard framed by the BIS and certified by the CPCB.
  • (3) Until a standard referred to in sub-rule (3) is announced by the BIS, biodegradable plastic bags must conform to tentative Indian Standard IS 17899 T:2022 as notified by the BIS.
  • (4) As a transitory measure, a provisional certificate for biodegradable plastics must be issued by the CPCB in cases where an interim test report is filed for an ongoing test, which includes the first component of the IS 17899 T:2022 concerning the biodegradability mentioned at Sl. No. (i) or Sl. No. (ii) of Table 1 or Sl. No. (i) of Table 2 of the IS 17899 T:2022: The provisional certificate must be valid till 30th June 2023 with the condition that the import or production of biodegradable plastics must stop after the 31st day of March 2023.
  • (5) The interim test report must be obtained from the Central Institute of Petrochemical Engineering and Technology 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 and Calibration Laboratories. Also, they must certify the bio-degradation of plastic is in line with IS 17899 T:2022.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Issuing Certificate Sellers of Biodegradable Plastic Carry Bags

According to Rule 4(h) (Conditions) of PWM Rules, 2016, the sellers of biodegradable plastic carry bags must obtain a certificate from the CPCB before selling or marketing biodegradable plastic carry bags.

The protocol for biodegradable plastic carry bags according to the fifth Amendment to Rule 10 of PWM Rules dated 06th July 2022 ( Annexure I) is as follows:

Applicability of SOP

This SOP applies to all applications received after the date of issue of this SOP.

Application Submission

  • i. The biodegradable plastic carry bag seller must apply to CPCB for registration in Form-B (Seller) (Annexure IV) and the prescribed documents.
  • ii. Application and digitally signed documents are to be filed by e-mail at until the online portal is created.
  • iii. A confirmatory e-mail is sent to the applicant within three working days of receiving the application by CPCB.

Checklist of documents required for certification seller

i. PAN and GST of the company

ii. Aadhaar card of the authorised person

iii. Copy of registration issued by the concerned SPCB/PCC to the certified CPCB manufacturer

iv. Copy of certificate issued by CPCB to the concerned manufactures

v. Authorisation letter issued to the seller from the concerned manufacturer

vi. Test reports according to the Indian Standards IS/ISO 17899: 2022 - 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 biodegradable carry bag)

vii. Import Export Code (IEC) (in case of import of biodegradable carry bags/commodities)

Processing of application

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

ii. Applications are rejected if irrelevant information/false document is submitted.

Issuing of Certificate

A provisional Certificate is issued depending on the filed interim test report for an ongoing test, which includes the first component of the IS 17899 T:2022 concerning the biodegradability given at Sl. No. (i) or Sl. No. (ii) of Table 1 or Sl. No. (i) of Table 2 of the IS17899 T:2022: to the seller. A copy of the certificate must be submitted to the concerned SPCB/PCC. The format of the certificate of the seller is given in Annexure VI.

i. The provisional certificate is valid till 30th June 2023 with the condition that the import or production of biodegradable plastics must stop after the 31st day of March 2023. The consent to produce biodegradable plastics must be operative till 31st March 2023.

ii. The plastic packaging manufacturer must register as a producer on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Portal. He must fulfil his EPR liability according to the EPR guidelines if the final biodegradability testing as per IS/ISO 17899:2022 fails.

iii. The certificate issued by CPCB is valid unless it is revoked for violation of conditions stipulated in the certificate. However, if there is a modification in the raw material/production process or product, a new application must be submitted to CPCB for issuing the new certificate.

iv. If the unit doesn’t have a valid registration from the PCC/SPCB (for the SUP item manufacturers), then the certificate is issued with the condition that the seller must sell the biodegradable carry bags only after obtaining a valid registration for selling biodegradable carry bags from concerned SPCB/PCC. The registration must be submitted to CPCB within three months of the grant of the certificate by CPCB, failing which the certification must stand cancelled.

Monitoring mechanism

  • i. The seller must submit a six-monthly report furnishing information on raw material procurement and product sale, including GST details to CPCB according to Annexure-VII format.
  • ii. Field verification of the units is carried out by PCC/SPCB, covering at least 10% of the units in their UTs/states bi-annually. The format for field verification is provided in Annexure VIII.
  • iii. The concerned authorities will perform random checks of consignments in case of import of biodegradable plastics
  • iv. The market survey must be performed to ensure the availability of certified biodegradable carry bags at the consumer end. CPCB must personally conduct field verification of the certified units annually according to the prescribed format (Annexure VII) and market survey to monitor the compliance of the PWM Rules w.r.t sale of biodegradable plastic carry bags.
  • v. If, at any stage, the seller of biodegradable bags is found to be violating the stipulated rules, the certificate granted by CPCB must stand cancelled.

Cancellation of Certificate

  • i. CPCB can suspend or cancel the seller's certificate if he fails to comply with any of the norms of the certificate
  • ii. If any seller is found to be violating the provision of the certificate during random checking by CPCB or depending on the verification by SPCBs, a notice is issued by CPCB.
  • iii. A chance 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 certification by CPCB.
  • iv. The decision on suspension or cancellation of authorisation is intimated within ten working days after the hearing.
  • v. In case forged/irrelevant documents are filed with the application, the application is rejected.

Note - SOPs for issuing certificates to sellers of biodegradable plastic bags are according to the above provisions of PWM Rules.

If the seller of biodegradable plastic bags follows these guidelines, it is clear that this sector has a huge scope. In fact, it is thus surveyed and proven that the industry of biodegradable plastic is about to witness a boom shortly because of its multiple benefits.

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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