The CPCB’s proposed rules for managing plastic waste in India, use Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as an important policy mechanism. EPR is modeled to assist Producers, Importers, and Brand Owners (PIBOs) in effectively implementing a plastic waste management system for the waste generated from their products.
Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR as the name suggests, is the responsibility of a product manufacturer to manage the waste generated from products after its end-of-life use by the consumer, which reduces waste entering landfills and heightens recycling rates with many other benefits.
This policy tool is widely used across countries like Switzerland, the USA, the UK, Canada, and many other OECD member nations, which have shown the effectiveness of its implementation by achieving ambitious recycling rates – Germany with 56% recycling rate.
EPR for plastic waste management is a fairly new concept in India, introduced in the year 2016. The Ministry of Environment and Forest of India introduced a draft, Uniform Framework for Extended Producer Responsibility (Under Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016) on June 26, 2020, followed by an amendment that detailed and outlined the roles, responsibilities, and implementation procedures.
The Draft guidelines of EPR provide brands, 3 Models, to choose from to fulfill their EPR responsibilities, in a span of 5 years from the date of notification. With 30% in the first year and increasing to 90% by the 5th year. To make the process effective, CPCB proposed mandatory registration and record-keeping on the online portal of PIBOs, Waste collectors, Local civic bodies, Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs), Recyclers, Aggregators, and all participating stakeholders.
Here is a quick summary of the proposed models:
Model 1: Fee-based Model
Brands are required to contribute a monetary sum to a central EPR Corpus Fund, which will be managed by a Special Purpose Vehicle. The funds will be used to strengthen three key aspects in the plastic waste ecosystem:
- Urban Local Bodies – who have the primary responsibility of collecting, segregating, and disposing of the plastic waste generated. For this, the fund will provide for the necessary infrastructure and mechanisms
- Collecting and Processing Sector – which comprises waste pickers, kabadiwalas, safai walas, recyclers, aggregators, and others – who play a very important role in channeling the waste
- Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) activity which enables waste segregation at sources, collection, and recycling
The fee to be contributed is decided based on the quantity of plastic waste generated and the financial costs of handling this waste.
Model 2: PRO Model
The PRO model is sort of an outsourcing mechanism, wherein PIBOs do not take the operational and recycling responsibility but rather outsource it to a PRO or create their own. The PROs must be registered under the EPR rules and provide brands the services required to fulfill their EPR requirements.
Model 3: Plastic Credit Model
The Plastic Credit model doesn’t require the manufacturer to handle/recycle the waste themselves, instead can purchase Plastic Credits from “properly accredited processors (recyclers, waste-to-energy plant operators, cement co-processors, users utilising plastic in road) or exporters”; ensuring an equal amount of ‘plastic waste’ is recovered and recycled as per the brand’s obligatory quantities.
The effectiveness of these models in managing plastic waste can only be known with time. Proven methods of plastic waste management are many and here are a few listed for you:
- The famous 3R’s initiative – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – an initiative supported by brands worldwide such as Danone, Veolia, Nestle, Tetra Pak, and more. This method brings a holistic change in the organisation along with reduced production costs and remediation efforts
- Industry Conglomerates & Collaborations such as WeCare – a group of companies joined hands to collectively reduce the rising plastic waste in the country, by grass root level awareness programs, strengthening of local and state civic bodies, and investing in R&D for plastic recyclability.
If you are a PIBO based in India and are looking towards implementing your EPR fulfillment plans, we are here to assist you. With a growing network of Brands, Recyclers, Aggregators, and Local Waste Pickers – our EPR Loop will make you a part of this umbrella network ‘Digitally’.
Interested? Get in touch with us or book a free 30 minute EPR consultation with our team of experts.