Plastic, a commercial success but the discarded plastic has become a threat to the environment. Therefore, to address the issue the Government of India has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWM) 2016, in the suppression of the earlier Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 further amended it in 2018.
For the first time, PWM Rules gives the responsibility to every waste generator, Local Body, Gram panchayat, Manufacturer, Importer and producer and brand owner encouraging the use of compostable carry-bags and products by exempting minimum thickness criteria of 50μm and also defines the Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR), as the duty of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life. In 2018 it amended to phase out manufacturing of multi-layered plastic unless they obtain a registration from the State Pollution Control Board.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 focuses on :
- Increase the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 microns for plastic sheets also to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste.
- To introduce the collection of plastic waste management fee through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic carry bags/multilayered packaging and vendors selling the same for establishing the waste management system.
- Expand the jurisdiction of applicability from the municipal area to rural areas, because plastic has reached rural areas also.
- To promote the use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilization of waste and also address the waste disposal issue; to entrust more responsibility on waste generators, namely payment of user charge as prescribed by the local authority, collection and handing over of waste by the institutional generator, event organizers.
- To bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in the plastic waste management system and to introduce collect back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per extended producers responsibility.
- Manufacturing and use of non-recyclable multi-layered plastic to be phased in two years.
- Use of plastic sheet for packaging, wrapping the commodity except for those plastic sheet’s thickness, which will impair the functionality of the product are brought under the ambit of these rules. A large number of commodities are being packed/wrapped into plastic sheets and thereafter such sheets are left for littered. Provisions have been introduced to ensure their collection and channelization to authorised recycling facilities.
- State Pollution Control Board (SPCBs) will not grant/renew the registration of plastic bags, or multi-layered packaging unless the producer proposes the action plan endorsed by the concerned State Development Department.
- Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been mandated to formulate the guidelines for thermoset plastic (plastic difficult to recycle). In the earlier Rules, there was no specific provision for such type of plastic.
An eco-friendly product, which is a complete substitute of the plastic in all uses, has not been found till date. In the absence of a suitable alternative, it is impractical and undesirable to impose a blanket ban on the use of plastic all over the country. The real challenge is to improve plastic waste management systems.