What is EPR?
EPR or Extended Producer Responsibility is an environmental policy for waste management. Concept of EPR is to collect back plastic wastes by the Producer. It encourages manufactures to produce eco-friendly and easily recyclable products. It enhances innovation in recycling. Many countries accepted it for waste management.
EPR in India:
EPR is first introduced in Plastic Waste Management Rules 2011. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) redefined EPR in Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWMR) 2016. Its aim is to make responsible Producers, Importers and Brand owners for plastic wastes created due to their business activity. In amendment of PWMR 2016, PRO (Producer Responsibility Organisations)was included in EPR policy. But its proper guideline was proposed after 4 years of notification of PWMR 2016. The final framework will be notified after analysing comments from stakeholders.
According to draft framework, EPR will include three frame works.
- Fee based model
- PRO model
- Credit based model
In ‘fee-based frame work’ producers have to contribute to the EPR fund. This fund will be used for set up infrastructure for waste management. The amount of contribution will depend on the generation of plastics by the producer and the cost of waste management by the local bodies.
In ‘PRO frame work’ a third party will be involved. It will collect and process the waste instead of the manufacture. Here the producers have to give financial aid to the third party. Municipality can also register as a PRO member. In national level there is also a national PRO authority.
In ‘credit-based model’ producers will get credit for waste management. Here producers will manage not own packaging, but help in equivalent amount of other plastic waste recycling. Producers and processors can exchange the credit as a financial aid between them.
Issues in EPR in India:
According to draft, in the beginning waste management target will be 30%, and it will increase gradually and reach 90% in next five years. All the stake holders have to be registered. Monitoring, registration is the responsibility of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). If producers fail to reach the target, they have to pay fine. The fine will be used for developing infrastructures for waste management.
According to section 9 of Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, producers should develop a proper plan for management of wastes within six months of publication of rules. But till end of 2018 only 45 companies submitted their EPR plans to CPCB. In mid of 2019 CPCB pulled up 52 companies for not disclosing their EPR plan.
Most of the plastic wastes that consumer produce are multilayer packages. Ragpickers don’t pick it because they get a little money from this. So the uncollected wastes go to dump yard and pollutes our environment. Multilayer packages can be used as fuel for cement factories and waste-to-energy plants. But there are no sufficient plants and the processing is costly.
Hence, informal sectors like ragpickers and kabadiwala should be integrate with PROs. The frame work must be more focus on higher investment and lower regulatory cost. EPR in India is in its infant stage. It has a long way to go for a plastic free country. But it has to grow as soon as possible. Otherwise our ecosystem will be destroyed.