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Apex plastics body AIPMA urges government to reconsider PET ban – A POLYMERUPDATE special report

A recent draft notification issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, which proposes prohibition of the use of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or plastic containers for primary packaging of drug formulations, has generated a huge outcry among members of the plastics fraternity in India. According to the notification, a period of 45 days has been granted for the members of the plastics fraternity or any person likely to be affected by the draft rules to raise objections and suggestions, which will then be taken

into consideration by the Central Government. The draft rules stipulate "no manufacturer shall use the Polyethylene Terephthalate or Plastic containers in liquid oral formulations for primary packaging of drug formulations for paediatric use, geriatric use and for use in case of pregnant women and women of reproductive age group" and that any manufacturer who contravenes shall be liable to penalty.

The draft notification issued on September 29, 2014, came a rude shock to plastics producers and converters and even machinery manufacturers across India, who have expressed disagreement and opposed this proposal of the Central Government. Leading the charge is the All India Plastics Manufacturers' Association (AIPMA), the largest Apex body of the plastics industry in the country. In a letter to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, AIPMA has strongly opposed the PET/plastics ban and has called for the government to reconsider the draft rules. The 14-page document submitted to the concerned ministry highlights the advantages that PET possesses as a packaging material and enumerates the various world-class standards that PET manufacturers follow and the Indian standards that PET bottle manufacturers adhere to. The letter also comprehensively debunks the theories of endocrine disruption and leaching at elevated temperatures.

Speaking to POLYMERUPDATE, Mr. Rituraj Gupta, the newly elected President of AIPMA, said that PET is not an endocrine disruptor and there is no question of leaching with PET as it has a high molecular weight and is non-volatile. Mr. Gupta added that uptil 85 degree Celsius, PET bottles have been certified to be safe for packaging of liquid consumables and test results confirm the same. He said that in addition to medicines, PET is the material of choice for the packaging of essential consumables such as drinking water, edible oil, milk, liquor, soft drinks and juices and provides a cost-effective alternative to glass. Mr. Gupta also pointed out even glass bottles have plastic liners and questioned the wisdom behind substituting plastics with glass.

Mr. Gupta noted that the repercussions of such a ban would be disastrous; nevertheless, he assured that all appropriate measures to oppose the ban will been taken and said that it is extremely unlikely that the government will pursue this matter any longer.