How green are green crackers?

How green are green crackers?
  • Green crackers claim to have no pollutants like barium nitrate, lithium, aluminum, sulfur and potassium nitrate.
  • Delhi has imposed a complete ban on crackers, including green crackers.
  • Green crackers with fake QR codes, putting the initiative under scrutiny.
With Diwali less than two days away, Indians are gearing up for the festival of lights, some wanting to be eco-friendly by using green crackers.

The Supreme court of India banned the traditional crackers containing pollution causing barium nitrate back in 2018, promoting the use of green crackers instead.

Claiming to be eco-friendly, these green crackers are also more expensive than traditional crackers.

“This year we have only 70% of stock as compared to last year because the majority of big cracker brands have supplied less crackers owing to their transition to green crackers. Green crackers use nitrate as compared to other crackers which use barium salts. Nitrates are in short supply so the overall cracker industry is hit, making the limited supply costly,” said Praveen Kumar T from Crackers Mela.

In September this year, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee announced a complete ban on bursting crackers – including green crackers – till January 2023. This is being legally contested by green crackers manufacturers in Delhi.


Assam, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan have allowed the use of green crackers while West Bengal used green crackers during Durga Puja festivities. Punjab has approved bursting of green crackers for two hours on Diwali.

However, the present chemical substances on supposedly green cracker packets have made green crackers an oxymoron for the ₹3,000 crore cracker industry in India.

Are green crackers in reality, green?

Need for green crackers in India

In May 2019, the Supreme Court approved the use of green crackers to control pollution. Green crackers are certified by CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.

During the pandemic last year, the Supreme Court had reinforced its ban on crackers for cities with poor air quality index (AQI). The air quality was more harmful for older citizens and people who have recently recovered from Covid-19. This is especially true for the national capital, where paddy burning from Punjab has made the air thicker and more difficult to breathe.

In an interview with TOI, Dr Mukul Kumar Singh, an epidemiologist at Nalanda Medical College Patna said, “People should avoid fireworks during Diwali, especially those who have asthma, citizens above 60 years of age, small kids or who have recovered from severe symptoms of Covid-19.”

Delhi-NCR is already the most polluted region in north India, according to a report by Center for Science and Environment (CSE) released in May this year.

The eco-friendly alternatives during Diwali are green crackers but there are claims dismissing their authenticity.

Are green crackers actually green?

The promises of green crackers are many- no chemical substances like potassium nitrate, barium nitrate, sulphur, lithium and aluminum, release of water vapor instead for reduction of particulate matter and 30% less emissions.

Only 30 government registered manufacturers can sell green crackers in India. Over 2,311 kg of firecrackers were seized ahead of Diwali in Delhi. Upon inspection, not 1 kg was found to be ‘green’.

The only way to vaguely test if these crackers are authentic is to check for CSIR-NEERI stamps or QR codes. Another way is to look at the packaging and see if they list chemical ingredients.

To analyse the efficacy of these “green” crackers, Awaaz Foundation with Maharashtra Pollution Control Board bought a bunch of green crackers ahead of Diwali in Mumbai last year, testing the noise and emission reality of them at RFC ground in Chembur.

"Few have QR codes alongside the CSIR NEERI stamp of green crackers but QR codes are not registered to NEERI and are fake. Even banned chemical ‘barium nitrate’ is openly listed on boxes of some packets claimed to be green crackers,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation in a report.

In another letter dated December 2020, addressed to former environment minister for Maharashtra Aaditya Thackarey, Abdulali wrote, “We found that even the 12 varieties of ‘green crackers’ contained toxic chemicals including the banned barium nitrate, other nitrates and sulfates.”

There are other green cracker alternatives by companies like Bombay Greens and Plantable Patakha that turn the cracker paper into a plant but the cost begins from ₹500. The usage of green crackers can thus just be green in colour not in spirit.

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