For the first time ever, the Centre has set up a market mechanism for plastic waste management where efficient approach can get waste generators earn credits which can be sold and purchased. The Centre has also notified guidelines on plastic packaging that fixes responsibilities on producers, importers and brand owners (PIBOs) for managing products in environmentally sound manner.
Under the new guidelines, PIBOs can even operate schemes such as deposit refund system or buy back, or any other model in order to prevent mixing of plastic packaging waste with solid waste. It also brings forth a framework for levy of environmental compensation or penalty based upon polluter pays principle. This is with respect to non-fulfillment of extended producers’ responsibility (EPR) targets by PIBOs for protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environment pollution.
The Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said the guidelines provide a framework to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste and promote development of new alternatives to plastic. It provides a roadmap for businesses to move towards sustainable plastic packaging. Funds collected as penalty will be used for collection, recycling and end-of-life disposal of uncollected plastic waste in an environmental sound manner.
Moreover, the guidelines on EPR on plastic packaging, in addition to prohibition of identified single-use plastic items are considered quite important for reducing pollution caused due to littered plastic waste in the country. The implementation of EPR will be done via a customized online platform. This will allow tracking and monitoring of EPR obligation. It will also reduce the compliance burden for companies through online registration and filing of annual returns. The guidelines have prescribed a system of verification and audit of enterprises to ensure the same.
Vinod Shukla, president of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Manch (PDUSM), highlighted that the creation of a centralized portal for the registration of PIBOs and mandatorily disclosing of EPR targets, action plans, production and procurement of category-wise plastic packaging for the industry will bring much-needed transparency. He said it will reward eco-friendly conglomerates which understand the dire impact their products’ packaging can have on the health of Earth and its habitants.
The PIBOs will collect waste and recycle it in partnership with different agencies including urban local bodies. They will have different timelines to recycle and manage their accumulated waste. Furthermore, the reuse of rigid plastic packaging material has been mandated in the guidelines to reduce the use of fresh plastic material for packaging.