Comprehensive guidelines on EPR for plastic packaging notified

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The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has notified comprehensive guidelines for the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) on plastic packaging that is applicable to both pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic packaging waste.

“Taking forward the clarion call given by PM Narendra Modi ji to eliminate single-use plastic, MOEF&CC has notified comprehensive Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility on plastic packaging,” tweeted the Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav very late on Thursday night.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.

The entities that are to be covered under the Extended Producer Responsibility obligations and provisions of these guidelines include producer of plastic packaging; importer of all imported plastic packaging and / or plastic packaging of imported products; brand owners (BO) including online platforms/marketplaces and supermarkets/retail chains other than those, which are micro and small enterprises as per the criteria of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India and Plastic Waste Processors.

The notification has mentioned four plastic packaging categories under EPR. Under Category I, it is rigid plastic packaging; under Category II, it is the flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets or like and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches; under Category III, it is the multi-layered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic; under Category IV, it is plastic sheet or like used for packaging as well as carry bags made of compostable plastics.

As per the notification, registration would be compulsory, which would mean no entity – producer or importer – can carry out any business without registration.

The notification mentions the EPR target for the Year 2021-22 as 25 per cent; for 2022-23 as 70 per cent and for 2023-24 as 100 per cent.

After specifying only those plastics, which cannot be recycled will be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil, cement kilns (for CO processing), etc., as per relevant guidelines issued by Indian Road Congress or Central Pollution Control Board from time to time.

The notification also specified category-wise targets to be followed by the importer for minimum level (in percentage) of recycling (excluding end of life disposal) of plastic packaging waste collected under extended producer responsibility Target. And it also mentioned, category-wise mandatory use of recycled plastic in plastic packaging (percentage of imported plastic for the year) for the importers.

Earlier, the Ministry had notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 on March 18, 2016. The Ministry had also notified the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 on April 8, 2016. As plastic waste is part of solid waste, therefore, both the rules apply to managing plastic waste in the country.

The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, mandate the generators of plastic waste to take steps to minimise generation of plastic waste, not to litter the plastic waste, ensure segregated storage of waste at source and hand over segregated waste in accordance with rules. The rules also mandate the responsibilities of local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators, retailers and street vendors to manage plastic waste.

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