India has been actively working to revamp its waste management approach since the 1990s, drawing insights from successful international models. The country committed to the Basel Convention and other global agreements emphasising shared responsibility among participating nations. These pacts include the Stockholm Convention of 2006 and the Rotterdam Convention, among others. However, the waste management industry recognised the need for a well-defined standard operating procedure (SOP) for the recycling and reuse process. This required the involvement of organisations that understood the value of waste, along with a goal-oriented approach. As a result, India introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Policy. This policy’s core principle sparked a notable shift by transferring the waste management responsibility from the government to Producer-Integrated Waste Management Organisations (PIBOs). Entrepreneurs engaged in plastic and electronic waste recycling and processing swiftly transformed this responsibility into an advantageous opportunity. The effective management of plastic and electronic waste became a lucrative and efficient enterprise facilitated by the private sector.
The concept of Extended Producer Responsibility involves expanding a producer’s responsibility beyond the initial product phase to encompass the later stages of the product’s life cycle. EPR represents a government-established policy that mandates producers to be accountable for retrieving, managing, or disposing of the consumer goods they distribute. Traditionally, producers sell their products to consumers and ensure that the products are delivered in a safe and functional condition. They also provide necessary post-sale services for the products. However, these responsibilities often go unaddressed once the consumer has completed using the product.
The EPR initiative mandates manufacturers or importers involved in producing or selling electronic devices to either make payments for or oversee the collection, reusing, recycling, or proper disposal of their products once they have reached the end of their useful lifespan. This approach aims to mitigate the negative impact of these devices on the environment and human health, ensuring that electronic products are managed in an ecologically responsible and sustainable manner. EPR programs can vary across countries and product categories, but they typically require producers to bear the costs of managing the waste from their products once they are no longer usable. This incentivises producers to design items that are more sustainable and easier to handle at the end of their lifecycle. EPR is often seen as a pivotal policy tool for shifting the responsibility of electronic waste management from taxpayers and consumers to producers, who are considered to hold primary accountability for the environmental consequences of their products.
The 2016 Plastic Waste Management Rules introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework, which mandates producers, importers, and brand owners to manage their plastic packaging waste. They must ensure proper processing methods such as recycling, reusing, or appropriate end-of-life disposal methods like co-processing, waste-to-energy, plastic-to-oil, roadmaking, and industrial composting are applied to their plastic packaging waste. This signifies that these entities are accountable for overseeing the entire lifecycle of the plastic products they create, from production to disposal, and they must take measures to minimise their environmental impact. The establishment of the EPR regime aims to promote environmentally conscious practices within the plastics industry, ultimately reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills and harms the environment. Implementing EPR for plastic packaging is a beneficial policy approach that can mitigate the adverse effects of plastic waste on the environment while also fostering responsible conduct of business . Manufacturers can enhance the sustainability of their operations, decrease waste, and contribute to a circular economy by taking ownership of their products throughout their entire lifecycle.
The EPR policy offers a range of benefits that have encouraged organisations to adopt this approach. Some prominent advantages encompass:
The burden of waste management expenses is often shouldered by local governments. As the volume of waste disposal has risen, there has been a demand for additional disposal facilities. The introduction of EPR has brought support to waste management companies and has provided businesses with a motivation to integrate higher amounts of plastic waste into their production procedures. This presents a mutually beneficial situation where neither party has to incur substantial costs for managing discarded plastic. Additionally, manufacturers are not compelled to produce entirely new plastic products. In the long run, recycling is poised to yield significant financial advantages.
The primary objective behind implementing EPR was environmental preservation. Among the most concerning waste materials making their way to landfills, plastic has been identified as particularly hazardous. In response to environmentalists’ warnings about the severity of the issue and its future implications, governments began exploring alternatives. The creation of products using recyclable plastic was a step in this direction. However, certain items pose recycling challenges due to complexities in disassembly, the incorporation of composite resins, and the presence of harmful substances.
Furthermore, extended producer responsibility-related policies offer an environmental advantage through reduced energy consumption. Recycling plastic products consumes less energy compared to manufacturing new ones from scratch. Consequently, this helps curtail air and water pollution. The imperative to limit landfills becomes more evident as the population expands and available land for infrastructure diminishes. Residing near landfills has been linked to significant health concerns, which underscores the importance of addressing this issue.
EPR brings societal advantages, as producers that engage in recycling and responsible management of plastic waste gain favourable public perceptions. Establishing a strong connection with customers becomes more achievable for businesses by embodying a socially responsible brand image.
The likelihood of purchasing such items has increased with heightened consumer awareness for environmentally conscious products. In this context, businesses adhering to EPR regulations showcase their recycling initiatives, subsequently enhancing the perception of their brands. Recognising the enduring benefits, many producers are gravitating towards this direction.
For any organisation seeking to obtain EPR certification and register online for plastic waste management in India, meeting specific requirements and submitting the necessary documentation is crucial. When initiating the online registration process through the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), it is important to consider the following key factors:
The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) registration process involves several key steps:
The renewal of the EPR license is required every five years. To facilitate this renewal process, Form 1 must be submitted within 60 days of the expiration of the initial registration. During this renewal, documentation verifying proper management, handling, and disposal of hazardous wastes will be needed. Additionally, it should confirm compliance with effluent and emission regulations. By presenting these essential documents during the renewal process, organisations can ensure the continued validity of their EPR license, demonstrating their commitment to responsible waste management practices.
The implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility is mandatory in India. This policy mandates producers, importers, and brand owners to assume responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, including proper waste management and disposal. EPR is a pivotal step towards achieving sustainable waste management practices and mitigating the environmental impact of products. Through EPR, organisations must establish mechanisms for the efficient collection, recycling, and safe disposal of their products, thereby reducing the burden on municipalities and landfills. The mandatory nature of EPR underscores India’s commitment to environmental conservation and emphasises the role of producers in creating a more sustainable and responsible approach to product lifecycle management. It is recommended to consult with experts who can guide you throughout the process involved in EPR and the compliance related to it.
Read our Article:Complete Overview Of EPR Policy In India