News: Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change announced the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022, which notified the instructions on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging. Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 has been amended to fast-track the elimination of single-use plastics and promote alternatives. The term Extended Procedure Responsibility means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
What are Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016?
- It mandates the generators of plastic waste to take steps to minimize generation of plastic waste, prevent littering of plastic waste, and ensure segregated storage of waste at source among other measures. The rules also mandate the responsibilities of local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators, retailers and street vendors to manage plastic waste.
- Classification of Plastics:
- Category 1:Rigid plastic packaging will be included under this category.
- Category 2:Flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches will be included under this category.
- Category 3:Multi-layered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic) will be included under this category.
- Category 4:Plastic sheet or like used for packaging as well as carry bags made of compostable plastics fall under this category.
- Reuse of rigid plastic packaging material has been mandated in the guidelines to reduce the use of fresh plastic material for packaging. The enforceable prescription of minimum level of recycling of plastic packaging waste collected under EPR along with use of recycled plastic content will further reduce plastic consumption and support recycling of plastic packaging waste.
- In a significant first, the guidelines allow for sale and purchase of surplus extended producer responsibility certificates. This will set-up a market mechanism for plastic waste management.
- The government has also called for establishing a centralised online portal by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the registration as well as filing of annual returns by producers, importers and brand-owners, plastic waste processors of plastic packaging waste by 31st March, 2022. It would act as the single point data repository with respect to orders and guidelines related to implementation of EPR for plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rule, 2016.
- Environmental compensation will be levied based upon polluter pays principle, with respect to non-fulfilment of EPR targets by producers, importers and brand owners, for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environment pollution. The Polluter Pays Principle imposes liability on a person who pollutes the environment to compensate for the damage caused and return the environment to its original state regardless of the intent.
- A committee constituted by the CPCB under the chairmanship of CPCB chairman will recommend measures to the environment ministry for effective implementation of EPR, including amendments to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) guidelines.
- State Pollution Control Board (SPCBs)or Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) have been tasked to submit an annual report on EPR portal with respect to its fulfillment by producers, importers and brand-owners and plastic waste processors in the state/Union Territory to the CPCB.
- It will promote development of new alternatives to plastics and provide a roadmap for businesses to move towards sustainable plastic packaging. The guidelines provide a framework to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste. A circular economy depends on reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling of resources to create a closed-loop system, minimising the use of resources, generation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions.
- These are important steps for reducing pollution caused due to littered plastic wastein the country.
- India generates about 4 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. The United Nations Development Programme aims to almost triple its plastic waste management to 100 cities in India by 2024.
- Accumulation of plastic waste is detrimental to the environment and when this waste finds its way into the sea, there can be major harm to aquatic ecosystems, too.