Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change announced the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2022, which notified the instructions on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging.
Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules Key Point:
Obligated Entities that will be covered under the Extended Producer Responsibility obligations and provisions of these guidelines are- Following are the entities that fall under the category of Extended Producer Responsibility. These entities have to get registered in the centralized portal developed by Central Pollution Control Board.
- Producer (P) of plastic packaging;
- Importer (I) of all imported plastic packaging and / or plastic packaging of imported products;
- Brand Owners (BO) including online platforms/marketplaces and supermarkets/retail chains other than those, which are micro and small enterprises as per the criteria of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India.;
- Plastic Waste Processors
Coverage of Extended Producer Responsibility-
The plastic packaging categories that are to be covered are as follows-
- Category I- Rigid plastic packaging;
- Category II- Flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic),
plastic sheets or like and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches;
- Category III- Multilayered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than
- Category IV- Plastic sheet or like used for packaging as well as carry bags made of compostable plastics.
- Reuse of rigid plastic packaging material has been mandated in the guidelines to reduce the use of fresh plastic material for packaging.
- The enforceable prescription of minimum level of recycling of plastic packaging waste collected under EPR along with use of recycled plastic content will further reduce plastic consumption and support recycling of plastic packaging waste.
Extended Producer Responsibility Certificates:
- In a significant first, the guidelines allow for sale and purchase of surplus extended producer responsibility certificates.
- This will set-up a market mechanism for plastic waste management.
Centralised Online Portal:
- The government has also called for establishing a centralised online portal by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the registration as well as filing of annual returns by producers, importers and brand-owners, plastic waste processors of plastic packaging waste by 31st March, 2022.
- It would act as the single point data repository with respect to orders and guidelines related to implementation of EPR for plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rule, 2016.
- Environmental compensation will be levied based upon polluter pays principle, with respect to non-fulfilment of EPR targets by producers, importers and brand owners, for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environment pollution.
- The Polluter Pays Principle imposes liability on a person who pollutes the environment to compensate for the damage caused and return the environment to its original state regardless of the intent.
Committee to Recommend Measures:
- A committee constituted by the CPCB under the chairmanship of CPCB chairman will recommend measures to the environment ministry for effective implementation of EPR, including amendments to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) guidelines.
Annual Report on EPR Portal:
- State Pollution Control Board (SPCBs) or Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) have been tasked to submit an annual report on EPR portal with respect to its fulfillment by producers, importers and brand-owners and plastic waste processors in the state/Union Territory to the CPCB.
What is the Significance of the Guidelines?
- It will promote development of new alternatives to plastics and provide a roadmap for businesses to move towards sustainable plastic packaging.
- The guidelines provide a framework to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste.
- A circular economy depends on reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling of resources to create a closed-loop system, minimising the use of resources, generation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions.
- These are important steps for reducing pollution caused due to littered plastic waste in the country.
- India generates about 3.4 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. The United Nations Development Programme aims to almost triple its plastic waste management to 100 cities in India by 2024.
- Accumulation of plastic waste is detrimental to the environment and when this waste finds its way into the sea, there can be major harm to aquatic ecosystems, too.
What are the other Initiatives taken to Curb Plastic Waste?
- Swachh Bharat Mission
- India Plastics Pact
- Project REPLAN
- Un-Plastic Collective
- GoLitter Partnerships Project
- A blanket ban will not stop manufacturers from producing single-use plastic products.
- Finding substitutes for use-and-throw plastic and ensuring alternative livelihoods for producers, waste pickers and other groups involved in the business will go a long way in solving the problem.
- The government should not only place fines for not adhering to the guidelines but incentivise producers to switch to more sustainable products. Along with proper monitoring, promoting responsible consumerism is very important.
- Citizens also have to bring behavioural change and contribute by not littering and helping in waste segregation and waste management.
Source: The Hindu