Import of Old & Used Tyres with One or Two Cuts in India


Dated:  27.08.2020

Write up on Import of Old & Used Tyres with One or Two Cuts in India

The Background

  • Every day India discards about 275,000 tyres but there is currently no comprehensive plan to deal with them. In addition, India imports waste tyres from other countries which get used in the pyrolysis industry.
  • The National Green Tribunal has expressed concern over the growing waste problem and asked the Central Pollution Control Board to devise a comprehensive plan to address the issue.
  • The NGT also asked the CPCB for looking at restricting the import of waste tyres to ensure that India does not become a dump yard for global waste.

With India producing over six percent of the global waste tyres every year, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed concern over the absence of effective management of these waste tyres and their subsequent use in polluting industries. Following a plea by an NGO, the green court has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for a comprehensive plan addressing the subject of waste tyre management. 

Currently, the issue of waste tyres is dealt under Environment (Protection) Rules 1986, Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, Central Pollution Control Board’s guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management of End of Life Vehicles, 2016 and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Additionally, the green tribunal asked the CPCB for guidelines to restrict the import of waste tyres into the country that are being used in the pyrolysis industry which adds to the pollution and impacts health of workers.

It is estimated that about 300,000 tonnes of tyres are imported into the country each year from across the world for recycling and disposal, which, however, are not always done through environmentally safe procedures. One of the reasons for importing these waste tyres is that it is a steady source of supply as domestically, collection of waste tyres is not organised. Every day, it is estimated that India produces 650,000 tyres and discards 275,000 tyres. 

The NGT noted that the CPCB guidelines on restricting the import of waste tyres are needed “so as to ensure that India does not become a dump yard for highly polluting hazardous waste material from other countries and also to ensure that health of the workers involved in the process is duly safeguarded.”

The NGT’s direction came on September 19, 2019, in a case related to the absence of proper management of End-of-Life Tyres/Waste Tyres (ELTs). 

“There is a lack of data about the total number of tyres discarded in India and waste tyres imported which makes their management difficult. We are ending up like a dump yard for other countries. These pyrolysis plants need to be regularised as even though some of these plants have permissions to operate, they do not comply with safeguards. We need to adopt environment-friendly methods to address this waste in accordance with global standards,” Tongad, who is also the founder of SAFE which was the appellant in the case at the NGT.

Old Tyre Bead Cutting
One Cut Old Tyre
Old Tyre One Cut
Bead Cut Old Tyres

The Compliance Perspective

  1. The import of used rubber tyres with one cut bead wire is free under ITC (HS) Code 4004 00 00- No Prior Permit is required from DGFT in this case.
  1. Imports of retreaded or used tyres are allowed subject to compliance of the provisions of the Foreign Trade Policy by DGFT, and the requirement of consent / permission Import of Pneumatic Tyres from the Ministry of Environment and Forest as stipulated in the Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules 2008.- In case of Used & Scrap Tyres with one or two cuts the PIC is mandate from the HSMD Division of MoEF as there is always a “Trans boundary”  perspective associated with any such imports coming to India.- Pls refer to the writ petition no 1452 of 2011 between M/s Royal Carbon Black (P) Limited Vs Chief Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai. The extract of the portion from this writ is reproduced below

However, the procedure prescribed in Rule 16 for the import of hazardous wastes has to be followed. Rule 16 makes it abundantly clear that the permission of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests is necessary in respect of the import or transit for transboundary movement of hazardous wastes specified in Schedule III. The expression “transboundary movement” is defined by clause (za) of Rule 2 as follows:

“(za) “transboundary movement” means any movement of hazardous wastes from an area under the jurisdiction of one country to or through an area under the jurisdiction of another PNP 10 WP1452-17.10.sxw country or through an area not under the jurisdiction of any country, provided at least two countries are involved in the movement.”

  1. Import of Used Tyre and Shredded Tyre scrap is a restricted item and require NOC from Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion; and Ministry of Environment & Forest. Proposal for import or export of restricted items is considered periodically by EXIM Facilitation Committee of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade and decisions to allow or otherwise are taken with the approval of the concerned Ministry- This Practice is adopted for Used & Scrap Tyres with one or two cuts also- Source is NACEN Kanpur Document on the Import of Pneumatic Tyres dtd. 29.06.2015.
  1. The HSMD under MoEF had issued an Office Memorandum (OM) by the subject “issuing a clarification to the use of test report for tyres as required by Customs”. The cited File No is F.No. 5-36/2014-HSMD dtd. 02nd July 2015which states very clearly that “The matter was considered during the 36 Meeting of Technical Review Committee held on 21st May 2015. The Committee agreed that in case of scrap tyres and tubes, visual inspection is adequate and no lab testing is required In case if record is to be maintained a photograph of the consignment can be taken- This is issued with the approval of the Competent Authority”

The conclusion

Import of Old & used Tyres with one or two cuts under ITC (HS) 4004 00 00 is still regulated. Though It is abundantly clear that there is no requirement of Prior Import Authorization (PIA) by DGFT, however a PIC (Prior Informed Consent) is mandatory from MoEF for any such Imports in India. There is also a need to obtain NOC from the DIPP on the cited matter as evident from the NACEN Kanpur document.

However from the inspection point of view it is clarified by HSMD division of MoEF vide OM No F.No. 5-36/2014-HSMD dtd. 02nd July 2015 to adhere to only Physical inspection & photography but not to draw 3 random samples as was the earlier practice by the customs field formations.

This is to be highlighted here that MoEF shall look into the possible ‘justification for Import’ & the ‘end use application’ point of view in the application before granting the PIC approval. Therefore it is advised to Merchant Importers that have a strong written agreement or collaboration with Actual users or registered Recyclers of these Tyres in India.

Sources: NACEN Kanpur, DGFT, HSMD, DIPP

Inputs by our Legal Team

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