Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has come out with Uniform Framework for Extended Producers Responsibility on 26th June 2020 and is open for public comment upto 31st July 2020.
India generates approximately 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day. Approximately 10,556 tonnes of this waste remains uncollected and thus reaches landfills or is thrown on the streets.
Govt. has notified Plastic Waste Management Rule 2016 on 18th March, 2016 which has made Producers, Manufacturers, and Brand Owners responsible for collecting back the plastic waste generated due to their products under ‘Extended Producers Responsibility‘ (EPR).
The generator of waste (i.e. Brand Owners, Producers, Manufacturers) have been mandated to minimize generation of plastic waste through segregate waste at source and handover it to local bodies, Reduce> Reuse > Recycle > Recover > Dispose.
Responsibility of waste collection from home to home and segregation rests solely with the Urban Local Bodies. Handing over this responsibility or even a part of this, to the producers would be very impractical and inefficient. Similarly, if the waste segregation were not done at source, it would be difficult to expect producers to implement EPR. The Rule state about collection of plastic waste but it is silent on allocating any responsibility to the producer/importer/brand owner for establishing other part of waste management system like transportation, material recovery, recycling and final disposal.
Hence, for the overall implementation of the EPR framework it is important that the producer / importer / brand owner should be involved in overall implementation of the projects and not only the collection.
In addition, many Urban or Local Bodies did not have the expertise or sufficient funds for segregating plastic waste and supply it to recyclers/cement plants etc. And it was also not cost effective and affordable for all types of industries where Producers need to work out on modalities for waste collection system based involving State Urban Development Dept. through their own distribution channel or through local body. Hence a cost effective and suitable for all model was required for effective implementation.
Salient feature of Framework Uniform Framework of EPR
The EPR framework is broken up into three parts – each suited to either a small, medium or large business.
Model 1 – Fee based model
PIBO who are using less quantity of plastic for packaging shall contribute to the EPR corpus fund at the central level. This may be an escrow account managed by an SPV where private and other stakeholders can become members.
Model 2 – Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) based model
PRO take on the responsibility for discharging producer’s national and state legal obligations in a more efficient and cost effective manner by applying industry’s experience gained through successful producer responsibility programs implemented in other jurisdictions.
Model 3 – Plastic credit model
A plastic credit model is envisaged where a producers is not required to recycle their own packaging, but to ensure that an equivalent amount of packaging waste has been recovered & recycled. Producers are mandated to acquire evidence of recycling or recovery from properly accredited processors. Producers and processors/ exporters may exchange plastic credits for a financial transaction at a price and other terms as negotiated between them.
Producers will be at liberty to decide options for establishing channels of collecting plastic credits with or without forming or linking with PRO’s. A producer with utilization of such mechanism would nevertheless secure plastic credits upon recycling or recovery of the collected plastic through an accredited processor/exporter.
Other ways of complying with EPR compliances are –
The PIBO also by the collect back / buy back mechanism may collect the plastic waste and directly take credit from the recycler
Product take-back mandate
Manufacturers and/or retailers individually or collectively as a consortium (legally agreed between producers) take back products at the end of the products’ useful lives, combined with such mandates is recycling or waste diversion target.
This approach is the same as above but instead of each individual producer meeting the same target, tradable credits are issued and firms are allowed to trade among themselves
Benefit of this EPR framework –
a) Brand and geography neutral.
b) No anomaly between states to complicate its implementation.
c) Promoting Ease of doing business in India
Hence, the guiding principles in the proposed EPR framework aims to achieve increased collection and recycling rates while creating a roadmap for cost-efficiency, value chain optimization, and a transparent and well-functioning waste management ecosystem. And, if implemented well, EPR can be a strong guiding path towards transitioning to a circular economy.