Draft EPR Notification: Plastic Packaging Waste | 13 Oct 2021

Why in News

Recently, the Union Environment Ministry has come out with a draft notification for regulation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) 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.
  • Earlier, the Ministry had notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021. These rules prohibit specific single-use plastic items which have “low utility and high littering potential” by 2022.

Key Points

  • Producers’ Mandate:
    • It mandates producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024 and ensure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled as well as used in subsequent supply.
    • Producers of plastic will be obliged to declare to the government, via a centralised website, how much plastic they produce annually.
  • EPR Certificates :
    • It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging can collect certificates — called EPR certificates — and trade in them.
      • EPR means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product (plastic packaging) until the end of its life.
    • The certificates will help organisations in making up for their shortfall from other organisations that have used recycled content in excess of their obligation.
  • End-of-Life Disposal:
    • Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled — such as multi-layered multi-material plastics — will be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil and cement kilns.
    • The methods only prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will be permitted for their disposal.
  • Categorization of Plastic Packaging:
    • Rigid Plastic:
      • They are plastic products that do not give easily when squeezed. Many are large, bulky items like lawn chairs, buckets, toddler toys etc.
    • Flexible Plastic:
      • It includes 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 (including carry bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches.
    • Multi-Layered Plastic Packaging:
      • They are the plastics which have at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.
  • Targets:
    • Companies will have to collect at least :
      • 35% of the target in 2021-22.
      • 70% of the target by 2022-23.
      • 100% of the target by 2024.
    • In 2024, a minimum 50% of their rigid plastic will have to be recycled as will 30% of their category 2 and 3 plastic.
    • Every year will see progressively higher targets and after 2026-27, 80% of their category 1 and 60% of the other two categories will need to be recycled.
    • There are similar targets, with slight variations, for companies that use packaging material as well as import them.
  • Buying EPR Certificates:
    • If entities cannot fulfil their obligations, they will on a “case by case basis” be permitted to buy certificates.
    • The CPCB will develop a mechanism for such exchanges on a centralised online portal.
  • Non Compliance:
    • Non-compliance, however, will not invite a traditional fine. Instead an environmental compensation will be levied, though the rules do not specify how much this compensation will be.
  • Fine:
    • Entities that do not meet their targets or do not purchase enough credits to meet their annual target must pay a fine.
      • Were they to meet their targets within three years, they stand to get a 40% refund. Beyond that, however, the money will be forfeited.
    • Funds collected in this way will be put in an escrow account and can be used in collection and recycling/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.
  • Banning Plastics:
    • From July 2022, the manufacture of a range of plastic products will be banned. The list includes: Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks etc.

Source: TH