The NGT asked the Central Pollution Control Board on Wednesday to submit a fresh report on Amazon and Flipkart's compliance of plastic waste management rules, a day after the CPCB said the e-commerce giants need to collect the waste generated due to packaging of their products.
Hearing a plea filed by a 16-year-old boy to stop Amazon and Flipkart from excessive plastic use in packaging, the National Green Tribunal said it is for the regulator CPCB to enforce the rules.
Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for CPCB, told the bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel about the non-compliance of plastic waste management rules by the e-commerce giants, saying the e-commerce firms need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under the rules.
They use excessive plastic for packaging but have not registered with CPCB, Shekhar said, adding the companies should obtain registration as brand owner after submitting relevant documents.
Advocate Sanjay Upadhyay, appearing for Amazon, told the green tribunal they will comply with all formalities on extended producer responsibility by June 30.
The bench, however, asked them to approach the CPCB and posted the matter for hearing on April 22.
On Tuesday, the CPCB told the NGT that as per provisions 9(2) of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, "Primary responsibility for collection of used multi-layered plastic sachet or pouches or packaging is of producers, importers and brand owners who introduce the products in the market.
"Amazon Retail India Private Limited and Flipkart Private limited are involved in packaging and selling of other companies' products and thus introducing plastic packaging in the market. They need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under PWM Rules and should obtain registration as brand owner after submitting proper documents," CPCB said.
Aditya Dubey, the petitioner in the case through advocate Divya Prakash Pande, has pleaded the NGT to direct Amazon and Flipkart to stop excessive use of plastic in packaging.
Responding to the plea, Amazon India said it has been "relentlessly" working to reduce single-use plastic in its supply chain and is committed to eliminating its usage in their buildings by June 2020.
"Towards this, we have introduced 'paper cushions', which have completely replaced plastic dunnage across our fulfilment centres in India. We also ensure that packaging material in the form of corrugate boxes and paper cushions contains as high as 100% recycled content and is also fully recyclable. To reduce packaging waste and use of plastic, 'Packaging Free Shipment' (PFS) has now expanded to 20 cities within a year," an Amazon India spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Flipkart said it has been "constantly striving to find eco-friendly alternatives for plastic packaging which is resilient and keeps the product safe during transit".
"The company firmly believes in the principle of 'business with a purpose' and we are aware of our responsibility towards the environment," a Flipkart spokesperson said.
Dubey's plea has contended that the companies deliver items in cardboard boxes, which are too large when compared to the size of the items being delivered.
The plea has also said that though the home-delivery service of e-commerce companies has been very useful for consumers, they have given rise to serious environmental challenges. Once goods are delivered, the plastic waste is thrown away in garbage and it ends up at landfill sites, it said.
"Single-use plastic has emerged as one of the biggest environmental challenges for our planet. It is cheap, useful, ubiquitous and very deadly," the petition has said.