Producers given targets to manage their plastic packaging waste in draft EPR notification
The Union environment ministry has come out with a draft notification for regulation of extended producer responsibility under plastic waste management rules 2016. The draft specifies the quantity of waste that will have to be managed by producers, importers and brand owners who generate plastic packaging waste in India.
When passed, the draft notification published on October 6 will come into effect immediately. EPR means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product (plastic packaging) until the end of its life. People and stakeholders can submit objections or suggestions to the environment ministry on the draft within 60 days.
EPR covers three categories of plastic packaging including rigid plastic packaging; flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic); plastic sheets, carry bags (including carry bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches; and multi-layered plastic packaging.
For example, the draft states that in 2021-22 producers of plastic packaging waste will have to manage 35% of the ‘Q1’ waste in metric tons. Q 1 is the average weight of plastic packaging material (category-wise and state wise) sold in the last two years plus average quantity of pre-consumer plastic packaging waste (generated before product reaches the consumer) in the last two financial years minus the annual quantity of plastic packaging supplied to brand owners (BO) including online platforms/marketplaces and supermarkets/retail chains etc during the previous year.
This EPR target for producers increases to 70% in 2022-23 and 100% for 2023-24 onwards. Similar EPR targets apply for importers and brand owners but the quantity would be different depending upon the quantity of packaging waste they are responsible for.
For brand owners EPR target in 2021-22 shall be the average weight of fresh plastic packaging material purchased and introduced in market in the last two years plus average quantity of pre-consumer plastic packaging in the last two years. There are targets in the draft for recycling of plastic packaging waste which is mostly 30 to 50% of EPR in 2023-24. Those plastics which cannot be recycled will be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil, cement kilns etc. as per relevant guidelines issued by Indian Road Congress and Central Pollution Control Board, the draft states.
The draft gives producers, importers, and brand owners of plastic waste an opportunity to trade in EPR certificates. They can use the surplus EPR certificates for offsetting previous year shortfall; carry forward for use in succeeding year and sell it to other producers and brands.
CPCB will draft guidelines for imposition and collection of environment compensation, a penalty on producers, recyclers and end of life processors for violating obligations specified in the regulation and also for violations of conditions such as sharing false information / certificates as mandated under these guidelines.
All producers, importers, brands, recyclers etc will have to be registered with CPCB through an online centralized portal. In case of irregularity or false information provided by them, the registration would be revoked for a five-year period and /or penalty may also be imposed, after giving an opportunity to be heard, the draft states.
“We welcome this notification as the industry was waiting for long time and operating in uncertainty. Therefore, this notification brings clarity and opportunities for industry to start working on compliances. Prima facie this notification seems to be giving overall directions and clarity on several issues and sets the processes. However, there could be some challenges due to ground realities which needed to be mitigated based on the experience of implementation of this notification,” said Hiten Bheda, Chairman, Environment Committee, The All-India Plastics Manufacturers Association.
“People can send in their comments to us. We have had consultations with industry bodies also on the EPR regulation,” a senior environment ministry official said.