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An outfit representing PET container manufacturers has told the National Green Tribunal that the National Test House (NTH) has not tested samples of five different soft drinks manufactured by two major multinational companies in India. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is used in fibres for clothing, containers for liquids and foods, thermoforming for manufacturing, and in combination with glass fiber for engineering resins.
The Health Ministry had recently told Parliament that five different cold drinks were selected by the stratified sampling method and the samples were submitted to NTH in Kolkata for testing where lead was found in the samples.
Apart from lead, other heavy metals like cadmium and chromium were also found in the samples (due to leaching of toxins from the bottles in which they were packaged), it had said.
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Referring to a RTI reply, PET Container Manufacturers Association (PCMA) told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that NTH-Kolkata was never accredited by NABL and it has not carried out tests for detecting heavy metals — antimony, chromium, cadmium etc.
“National Test House did not carry out testing of five different cold drinks–Sprite, Mountain Dew, 7UP, Pepsi and Coca Cola for detecting heavy metals like Cadmium and Chromium,” PCMA said.
National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) is a society which provides accreditation recognition for a specific task.
PCMA’s submission came while hearing a plea by NGO Him Jagriti Uttaranchal Welfare Society seeking directions to restrict the use of plastic bottle and multi-layered plastic packaging including pet bottles by imposing a ban on packaging of pharmaceuticals and other products.
The NGO had sought the ban saying such packaging leached harmful chemicals and heavy metals into the contents.
However, PCMA had alleged that the NGO’s plea was motivated by the interests of the glass industry and not environmental concerns in filing a petition seeking ban on use of PET packaging.
An expert committee constituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had earlier told the Tribunal that there was no conclusive proof that PET bottles used for packaging medicines have ill-effects on human health.