Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding disposal of cigarette and bidi butts, India, 09/09/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Doctors For You Vs MoEF&CC & Others dated 09/09/2020.

The application was filed on September 23, 2015 with a prayer to direct regulation of disposal of cigarette and bidi butts, apart from prohibiting consumption of tobacco in public places. Notice was issued on September 28, 2015 to the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Tobacco Board and other respondents. 

The response of MoEF&CC was that cigarette and bidi butts were not listed as hazardous. The cellulose acetate, which is prepared by converting cellulose into an acetic acid ester, is essentially a biodegradable substance. However, the biodegradability of cellulose acetate is not necessarily satisfactory in practice.

The Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) filed its report on July 9, 2020 on "Whether cigarette and bidi butts fall within the category of toxic waste or not."

The IITR report said that the analysis of the cigarette/bidi butts reflect that as per the concentration of various parameters analyzed - they are lower than the prescribed limits and would not be toxic to human and environment. However, Cellulose Acetate is a major component of the cigarette/bidi butts and its degradation studies show that it will persist for a longer duration.

The NGT directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to lay down guidelines for disposal of cigarette/bidi butts, in the interest of environment, within three months.