The Government of India announced new Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022 on 16th Feb 2022 which included the modalities of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and also included Rigid Plastics as a new category.
All Plastic Producers, Importers, Users, and Brand owners have to comply with these rules.
Q: What is EPR?
A: EPR or Extended Producer Responsibility is usually a policy adopted by Governments which makes Producers responsible for take-back, treatment or disposal of the consumer products sold by them.
As per PWM, 2022, EPR is the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of a product until the end of its life.
Q: What exactly does EPR mean?
A: Manufacturers usually sell their products to consumers. And their typical responsibility is to ensure that the goods reach their consumers safely and in good working condition. They also ensure that the goods are provided with the right after-sales service. However once the consumer has completed their usage of the product, then no one takes the onus of such goods.
EPR aims to ensure that Producers also take ownership of what happens to such goods after the consumer has used them. It means that the responsibility of manufacturers does not end once they sell their goods to consumers. They have to design and put in place methods to ensure goods can be taken back after they are used by consumers, and they are either recycled or treated for reuse or are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
Q: How does the reverse take-back process work?
A: As per a report by the Centre for Science and Environment by Ms S. Narain (2020), plastic collection in India already accounts for 60% of the total output as compared to 20% globally. India has a large informal reverse flow chain consisting of rag pickers, scrap dealers, kabadiwallas, and recyclers who already help in collecting such used plastic. Manufacturers have to ensure that such programmes are strengthened wherever possible.
Manufacturers need to ensure that recyclable plastic parts are used to the extent possible. Such plastic parts can then be collected and converted to ‘recycled granules’ which can be reprocessed and used along with a mix of virgin plastics, subject to the quality norms of the product. The red portion in the figure-2 shows the take-back process.
Products which are not recyclable need to be converted to oil, or energy, or can be used for road laying as per the prescribed norms. For environmentally sound disposal, one needs to avoid the used product ending in a landfill.
Q: What EPR rules has the Government laid down?
A: The new PWM rules mandate various categories of guidelines that need to be followed.
All Producers, Importers and Brand Owners (PIBOs) who use plastics, as well as recyclers of plastics need to register themselves with the Pollution Control Board. The rules prescribe different categories of plastics under which the PIBOs need to register.
Each of these PIBOs has obligations to fulfil which have been described in detail in clause 7.4 of the rules. The targets differ on the basis of various categories of plastics. There are four categories as shown in Table 1 below.
A summary of the various targets is shown in Table 2 below for Producers of Rigid Plastics, which fall under Category 1.
EPR Target% refers to the quantum of post-consumer used plastic that is required to be collected in a year by the Producers. Recycling Obligation refers to the quantum of plastic out of that collected as EPR Target, which needs to be recycled. While ‘Use of Recycled Content’ describes the % of recycled plastic that needs to be incorporated into the final product along with the usual virgin polymers.
The answers in this article are meant to serve as a guide and readers are advised to consider looking up the latest requirements or contact specialists for their respective situations.
About Mukesh Kripalani
CEO, Parekhplast India Limited explains how the company is leaving its mark with innovative packaging solutions.