Order of the High Court of Kerala regarding ban on the use of compostable plastic, 16/02/2021

Order of the High Court of Kerala in the matter of Dr. Vasundhara Menon & Others Vs Union of India & Others dated 16/02/2021.

The matter related to ban on the use of compostable plastic in Kerala.

The Kerala government issued orders - banning the manufacture, stocking and sale of single-use plastic/one-time use plastic in the state with effect from January 1, 2020. While doing so, and with a view to encourage the use of non-polluting substitutes, articles made from compostable plastic were initially excluded from the purview of the ban order. Through subsequent orders, however, the state government brought certain types of carry bags made from compostable plastic also within the purview of the ban.

The trigger for the changed stand of the government was stated to be the report received by it from a technical task force that was constituted by it, which suggested that there were growing number of instances where carry bags made from non-compostable plastic were being passed off as compostable ones.

The High Court directed the quashing of the government orders which prohibited the manufacture and sale of compostable plastic bags in the state.

The Court said that to impose restrictions, the government should have "cogent material that would support an inference of overwhelming use of fake composite plastic carry bags in the State" and that it cannot act on mere conjectures and surmises, unsubstantiated by empirical evidence.