India bans solid plastic imports

India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has announced changes to hazardous waste laws, reversing exemptions from its 2016 ban on solid plastic imports.

Under previous laws, companies in designated economic development areas were exempt from the ban.

The change comes after the country saw an increase in waste imports as a result of the market vacuum generated by China’s National Sword policy.

The export oriented units clause, which gave local governments the ability to procure resources from abroad, has also been removed.

The ministry said changes were made in accordance with the ‘Make in India initiative’ by simplifying procedures and upholding principals of sustainable development and lessened environmental impact.

The ‘Make in India’ initiative was launched in 2014 with the goal of making India a sustainable global manufacturing hub.

The change follows India’s commitment to phase out single-use plastics by 2022.

Some of the features of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019, include prohibiting solid plastic was from being imported into the country, including in special economic zones and by export orientated units.

Electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective can now be imported back into the country, within a year of export, without obtaining permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

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Monash Uni helping farmers profit from food waste

Research has begun on helping farmers transform their food waste into profit while improving their business model thanks to a joint effort from Monash University’s School of Chemistry, IITB (India), the Food Innovation Centre and the agriculture industry.

Monash University is using a holistic approach to ‘biomass valorisation’ to help the industry extract high value components such as antioxidants, oils, pectin and protein from food disposal. Mangoes, pomegranate and pineapple skin, spent coffee grounds and almond ash.

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The food waste also extends to fresh produce that is disposed for not meeting the cosmetic standards of supermarkets.

Professor Tony Patti said the biomass valorisation looks at the entire fruit or vegetable, not just what is eaten, which is what currently provides value to the grower.

“The skins, seeds, kernels, leaves and off-cuts were seen as ‘waste’, adding to their disposal costs. These by-products are not waste, but a potential valuable resource, providing several components, identified as being of high market value,” Dr Patti said.

“Monash is working with Australian growers and businesses to diversify the potential market opportunities, including expansion into the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and pet food industries.

“Using this research, food and agricultural companies can tackle costly waste challenges, improve their environmental footprint and create a sustainable business that takes full advantage of growing demand in domestic and export markets for high quality food products,” he said.