Over a decade ago, when sustainability was mentioned, no one bat an eye as it wasn’t gravely needed. With massive industrialization and urbanization, the quantity of waste being generated has increased manifold. The problem of waste can no longer be ignored.
To curb this issue, the Govt of India has introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which encourages producers to prevent pollution and reduce resource and energy use in each stage of the product life cycle through changes in product design and process technology.
The long-term purpose of EPR is to encourage the development of more environmentally friendly product – products that require fewer resources, contain fewer harmful substances and are easier to reuse/recycle. The ultimate goal is sustainable development through environmentally responsible product development and product recovery. EPR can lead to the following:
- Overall waste prevention;
- The use of non-toxic materials and processes;
- The development of closed material cycles;
- The development of more durable products;
- The development of more reusable and recyclable products;
- Increased reuse, recycling and recovery;
- The transfer of waste management costs
At present, the interaction between brands and their consumers is restricted only to the sell-purchase level. There is no proper form of communication regarding the post-usage of a product (in this case, how to dispose of the plastic/e-waste). The practice of throwing these packaging products into the garbage is widely practised. The percentage of people selling plastic to kabadiwalas or disposing of them correctly or sending them back to the producer is very less.
Due to this, the concept of EPR is known only to brands, owners and manufacturers. It also becomes more difficult, at the same time increases the cost for companies to acquire plastic and electronic waste. As there is only one end (owner) working on fulfilling EPR, there are situations where EPR may not be fulfilled which might result in non-compliance.
So, how about adopting the modern way of marketing – all about sustainability and environment consciousness?
Traditional marketing communication for products majorly talks about how its features are better for the consumer or how different it is from its nearest competitor. There was, however, no emphasis on how buying this product help you save the environment. How can it be disposed of easily? How its packaging can be returned to recycling? This has lead to the practice of throwing these packaging products into garbage, an accepted practice. Plastic packaging in particular has not attained the stature of ‘Raddi’ with value and has always remained a waste item.
To mitigate the difficulty for brands to obtain post-usage plastic scrap back, spreading awareness to consumers about plastic and e-waste can reduce the burden on brands.
Based on this, here’s a proposal of a strategy that combines both EPR and awareness program as a solution which involves even the last-mile players(consumers).
- Some part of the budget dedicated to marketing can be allocated to spreading awareness on plastic or e-waste returning.
- Introducing a reward system for depositing post-production packaging
- Spreading awareness about sustainability (as it is being adopted largely and could gain customer trust)
- Promoting DIY (Do-It-Yourself) with the packaging products, or multiple usage cycles before disposal
If you like the idea and would want to implement it for your brand, check out Recykal’s IEC activities.