Buy back plastic liquor bottles: Bombay HC

Court asks liquor manufacturers to recycle and reuse old bottles to curb environmental degradation

The Bombay High Court yesterday asked liquor manufacturers to buy back used plastic bottles for packaging liquor and ensure that they are recycled and reused to address environmental concerns arising from haphazard dumping of such bottles. The HC was hearing a petition filed by liquor manufacturers opposing the recent state General Resolution (GR) banning use of PET bottles for packaging liquor.

The suggestion to buy back used bottles was given to the bench of Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice S J Sonak by the lawyers — Aspi Chinoy and Janak Dwarkadas — representing the liquor manufacturers. They told the bench rather that banning plastic bottles, which were creating environmental issues, let the manufacturers buy back old bottles from wines shops — purchased from customers or scavengers a price of say Rs 5 per bottle. Thus ensuring that all the bottles come back and are reused after recycling.

Representing the state, Special Public Prosecutor Purnima Kantharia and advocate Hiten Vinegoankar contended that the plastic bottles aided bootleggers because it was impossible to emboss on them the state in which they were manufactured. Also, citing health and environmental hazards, they asked for packaging of liquor in glass bottles is made mandatory from April 1.

But the bench observed that it was possible to emboss on plastic bottles and the environmental issues could be addressed with the suggestion given by the liquor manufacturers. It also stated that the GR was passed on wrong grounds and it banned free trade.

“Till then, we will try the recycling thing. Plastic bottles will be bought by the liquor manufacturers for a good price and this will all be monitored by a person appointed by the state. This will help use recycled bottles and solve the environmental issues. Later, the formula can be applied to pharma, cosmetics and mineral water insudtsries that use plastic bottles,” said Chief Justice Waghela.

The state now has to file its reply by Thursday or risk an interim stay on the GR till June.

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