NGT advises ban on waste tyres imported to India

To prevent India from accumulating hazardous waste material from other nations, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a specialised judicial board in the country, has recently directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to regulate the import of waste tyres. This follows a plea filed by the Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE) seeking a complete ban on end-of-life tyres (ELTs) in pyrolysis industries that is causing highly-polluting environmental impact(s).

A CPCB report from July 2019 claims that there are 637 tyre pyrolysis units in 19 states of the country, but non-compliance to the existing laws has spurred closure directions – 251 tyre pyrolysis units are complying, 270 units are not complying and 116 units are closed, with the non-compliant units failing to meet Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the consent conditions of pollution control boards.

Meanwhile, the plea states that the use of waste tyres by the various pyrolysis factories operating in the country, which produces inferior quality pyrolysis oil, pyrolysis gas, solid residue (char), carbon black, and steel through its pyrolysis processes, needs to be banned immediately to prevent long-lasting environmental damage.

Besides the high level of pollution, these factories also emit highly carcinogenic/cancer-causing pollutants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and oxides of nitrogen which are extremely harmful to the respiratory system.

An NGT bench, headed by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, will thus direct the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the CPCB and the state pollution control boardsto develop a monitoring mechanism to ensure that imported waste tyres are verified through scientific means and through a robust monitoring framework.

“Let CPCB first monitor the compliance and file a report. The CPCB may issue appropriate directions on the subject after due consideration of the issue. The directions should also deal with the restrictions on import so as to ensure that India does not become a dump yard for highly polluting hazardous waste material from other countries and also to ensure that health of the workers involved in the process is duly safeguarded,” the bench said.