The role of stakeholders in EPR was further emphasised in the recently amended Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, published in March 2021. The role and responsibility of Producers, Importers, and Brand Owners (PIBOs) were outlined and stressed upon in the recent notifications.
The rapid growth in plastic and e-waste generated each day calls for the rapid implementation of EPR in India. With many brands taking steps towards transitioning towards EPR, there are many others who are yet to make the shift. Maharashtra and Delhi are the leading states with regard to e-waste generation in India.
Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR, highlights the responsibility of conscious disposal on PIBOs. Additionally, EPR helps them in not just waste management, but also in a comprehensive approach with added benefits in:
- Organisational consciousness
- Social presence
- Environmental management
- Economic aspects of business
Let us understand who PIBOs are:
Producer: An organisation that manufactures plastic, e-waste or other items under the EPR ambit
Importer: An individual or an organisation that bring in products from outside India to be sold in India
Brand Owner: An organisation that sells products under a particular label
Role of Stakeholders in EPR – PIBOs
EPR is a crucial shift from a consumer-centric to a product-centric approach in addressing the life cycle of a product. Consequently, it enables PIBOs to effectively manage their waste and promote the recycling culture in India. The foremost duty is to establish a circular economy for the waste being generated by their products.
Adoption of EPR
Firstly, It is a given, that the implementation of EPR in India will begin when PIBOs adopt the policy tool across their supply chain and organisation.
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. Also, as a PIBO, organisations are required to register, submit an Action Plan that details their plan of collection, recycling, and handling of the waste generated.
“EPR adoption and implementation is critical for any organisation”
Second, EPR models provide a downstream solution for waste management, however, bringing a change in the upstream is what will sustain the intended circular economy.
The sustainable decision making along the product cycle is crucial to create products that:
- Require minimal virgin resources
- Use Recycled materials
- Have a longer life cycle, which significantly reduces the need for new products
Alternatively, investing on improving product designs has proven to have environmental, economical and operational benefits for many brands around the world. Danone has launched label free water bottles, Carlsberg have introduced bottles made from paper, leading FMCG brand Smarties are shifting to paper based wrappers for their chocolates. You brand could be the next name for setting a precedent in India.
Thirdly, The pivotal role of PIBOs is to set up a sustainable, and robust collection mechanism for the waste generated from their products. There are many ways in which collection can be initiated:
- Take Back Programs/ Buy Back Offers
- Deposit Refund System
- Enabling consumers to recycle waste through Awareness Programs
- Supporting Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), and Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) in strengthening the collection framework
- Collaborating with industry partners in collectively initiating waste collection and recycling
Understanding the Environmental impact
Fourth, Prior to bringing any changes, it is necessary PIBOs must understand the environmental impact their products pose. Based on the assessment, relevant actions are designed and implemented.
For instance, e-waste generated by a consumer will have different collection mechanisms to plastic waste. Though both are harmful to the environment, the former has a significant toxic effect on the environment.
The toxicity of e-waste is understated, the improper disposal and its recycling by the members of the informal sector is a loss of precious resources and has adverse effects on our environment.
Organisational commitment to change
Finally, what ties all the duties and responsibilities is the commitment to change. Holistic participation by various departments in an organisation will decide the effectiveness of the scheme being implemented. Moreover, the role of stakeholders in EPR is many, yet the commitment by PIBOs is crucial in setting this policy tool in motion.
- Danon, the company that produces Evian packaged water, had pledged to implement a circular economy by 2025, by optimising an EPR and DRS system
- Retail Giant Walmart to cut its dependency on single use plastic by 2025
- Unilever’s toothpastes – Signal, Close up and Pepsodent will be recyclable by 2025
Consequently, the commitment by PIBOs will enable other stakeholders to follow, which will ultimately result in a holistic, cohesive, and robust implementation of EPR in India.
“EPR also appeals to circular economy advocates, and sometimes to the brands seeking to increase the use of recycled materials, as it allows producers to manage the recycling system like a supply chain by more directly connecting recycled commodities with production.”Recycling Today
Benefits of implementation to Stakeholders in EPR
The advantages and benefits of implementing are many. Positively, the benefits reaped spread across all aspects of an organisation and the waste ecosystem. Here is a brief list of benefits of implementation to Stakeholders in EPR.
- Design adaptation reduces raw material costs
- Reduced costs of remediation
- Cheaper compliance costs
- Recovery of end-of-life products reduces the environmental burden
- Cleaner production of products
- Creates a sustainable system
- Channels of recovery and recycling streamline organizational efforts
- Improves community and market relations
- Improves material management
- Reduces burden on municipalities
Finally, the above list is endless on the benefits, which greatly outweigh the costs in the transition. For a detailed list of benefits visit our blog on “Benefits of EPR for your Brand”
This blog is an insight into the benefits and role of stakeholders in the EPR ecosystem. The idea is to spread awareness among the consumers on the role of each member in the waste management system. Only together can we fight the growing waste in our landfills. Additionally, EPR is a way to keep the 3.3 million tones of plastic waste generated each year, away from landfills. The tool is an effective way to establish a circular economy which is the first step towards a sustainable future.
If you are a PIBO based in India and are looking towards implementing your EPR fulfillment plans, we are here to assist you in it. Recykal is a registered PRO that uses its digital waste management platform to manage plastic and e-waste in India.
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.