Draft EPR Notification: Centre announces targets to manage plastic packaging waste – All you need to know
The Environment Ministry has released a draft EPR notification under Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016. Know key details.
Why in News?
The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change on October 6, 2021, released a draft notification for regulation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) under Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016. The Draft EPR Notification lays out the target quantity of waste that the plastic packaging generating producers, brand owners, and importers in India will have to treat, recycle, reuse, or dispose of after the consumer has used the plastic packaging or material. The Draft EPR mandates plastic packaging producers to collect all their produce by 2024 and ensure a minimum percentage of the produce is recycled or used in supply.
The Draft EPR Notification is expected to come into force by December 6, 2021. As of now, it is open to public feedback.
Draft EPR Notification – Key Points
The Draft EPR mandates plastic packaging producers to collect all their produce by 2024 and ensure a minimum percentage of the produce is recycled or used in supply. The producers will be also mandated to declare to the government their annual plastic produce through a central website.
The producers can only send a fraction of plastic for end-of-life disposal as those plastic items cannot be recycled such as multi-layered-multi material plastics including waste to energy, road construction, waste to oil, and cement kilns. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will only prescribe the permitted methods for the end-of-life disposal methods.
Three categories of plastic packaging
The draft notification for regulation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) under Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 falls into three categories of plastic packaging:
- Category 1 – Rigid Plastic which cannot be easily squeezed or destroyed,
- Category 2 –Flexible Plastic which contains packaging of a single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic covers or sheets, carry bags including compostable plastic bags, plastic pouches, or sachet,
- Category 3 – Multi-layered Plastic which comprises one layer of plastic and one layer of material other than plastic.
Progressively higher targets will be witnessed every year. The target quantity of waste that the plastic packaging generating producers, brand owners, and importers in India will have to collect, treat, recycle, reuse, or dispose of after the consumer has used the plastic packaging or material are:
- 35 per cent of the target in 2021-22
- 70 per cent of the target by 2022-23
- 100 per cent of the target by 2024
In 2024, a minimum 5 per cent of their rigid plastic (category 1) and 30 per cent of their flexible plastic, and multi-layered plastic (category 2 and 3).
After 2026-27, 80 per cent of their rigid plastic (category 1) and 60 per cent of their flexible plastic and multi-layered plastic (category 2 and 3) will need to be recycled.
For companies that use packaging material as well as import, they are to follow similar rules with some slight variations.
The plastic packaging generating companies that fail to meet their targets or do not purchase enough credits to fulfill their annual target will be required to pay a fine. However, if they manage to fulfill their targets within 3 years, they will get a 40 per cent refund. Whereas, the money will be forfeited, if it takes longer than 3 years.
Funds collected this way will be kept in an escrow account. These funds can be utilized to collect and recycle/end-of-life disposal of uncollected and non-recycled/non-end-of-life disposal of plastic packaging waste on which the environmental compensation is levied.
However, non-compliance with the rules will not attract a traditional fine but instead; an environmental compensation will be levied. The rules do not mention the amount of environmental compensation as of now.
The Draft specifies a system wherein producers and users of plastic packaging can collect Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates and trade in them.
However, if one is unable to meet their obligations, they will be permitted to buy certificates on a ‘case by case basis’ which will aid them in making up the shortfall from organizations that have used recycled items in excess of their obligation.
Ban on Plastic Products
The Draft specifies a ban on the manufacture of a range of plastic products from July 2022. These include plastic sticks for balloons, ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic flags, thermocol for decoration, cups, plates, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, glasses, cutlery including spoons, forks, straws, knives, trays, packing or wrapping films, invitation cards, stirrers, cigarette packets, and PVC or plastic banners less than 100 microns.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – Background
The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in India was first introduced in 2012 to manage electronic waste. After the notification of the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, the EPR was extended to plastic manufacturers.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 mandated the manufacturers of plastic packaging including producers, importers, and brand owners to be accountable for the management of the end waste (that is after the consumer has used the plastic product). The mechanism to be accountable for the end-plastic waste has been laid out in the Draft EPR Rules that were issued in June 2020.
The Environment Ministry on June 26, 2020, had released the Draft Uniform Framework for Extended Producer Responsibility under Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016.
Plastic Waste in India – Statistics
As per the Annual Report 2017-18 by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), about 660,787.85 tonnes per annum of total plastic waste was generated. On a daily basis, India generated 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste of which 40 per cent was uncollected.
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