Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a legal responsibility imposed on producers of certain products that the producer introduces in the market that are potentially hazardous after the end of their life. The EPR regime applies to producers (including manufacturers, importers, and brand owners) and recyclers in 4 sectors: plastic packaging, electronic and electrical equipment (EEE), vehicle tyres and batteries. The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, Hazardous Waste Management Rules 2016, E-Waste Management Rules, 2022 and the Battery Waste Management Rules 2022 lay down the modalities of EPR in plastic packaging, e-waste, used tyres and end-of-life batteries, respectively.
CPCB, which is the nodal pollution control authority, is supervising the implementation of EPR for plastic packaging in the entire country, along with the assistance of SPCBs/PCC. CPCB is managing dedicated centralised EPR portals for registering businesses that fall under the ambit of EPR. In this article, we will understand the responsibilities imposed on enterprises covered in the purview of EPR under sectors vis-à-vis plastic packaging as per the PWM Rules, 2016 and cover the provisions laid down under the EPR Guidelines of 2022.
EPR for plastic packaging, as a policy, creates a legal responsibility for the waste management of the end-of-life of these products, including their recycling/ co-processing/ disposal and any associated environmental impacts of plastic waste. To reduce the waste management cost from the public exchequer and promote a circular economy, the government has made strict guidelines and monitoring mechanisms to implement EPR, which has become necessary for these businesses. EPR for plastic packaging is governed by 2022 EPR Guidelines that ensure recycling entities (co-processors/ recyclers/ WTE plants) perform eco-friendly recycling and disposal of plastic waste. Under the current version of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, the following entities have been identified to fulfil EPR.
Brand owner (BO), and
Plastic Waste Processor, which includes entities engaged in (a) recycling, (b) waste to energy, (c) waste to oil, and (iv) industrial composting.
Registration of Producers, Importers & Brand-Owners (operating in one or two states), and Plastic Waste processors is being done by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or Pollution Control Committee (PCC) through the centralised EPR portal developed by the CPCB. The entities identified under the Rules cannot carry any business without registration under EPR for plastic packaging. The following EPR guidelines have been laid down for PIBOs.
The EPR Targets and obligations of Producers, Importers and brand owners are determined category-wise and have been explained in the following sections.
For Producer: In the case of producers, for calculation of EPR targets, the eligible quantity will be the average weight of plastic packaging material (as per the plastic category and measured in MT) sold in the last two financial years plus the average quantity of pre-consumer plastic packaging waste in the last two financial years minus the annual quantity supplied to the entities in the previous financial year. For the financial year 2023-24, the EPR target for producers will be 100% of the eligible quantity.
For Importers: In the case of Importers, for calculation of the EPR targets, theeligible quantity will be the average weight of all plastic packaging material or quantity of plastic used for packaging the imported products (category-wise) that has been imported and sold in the last two financial years plus the average quantity of pre-consumer plastic packaging in the last two financial years’ waste minus the annual quantity supplied to the entities covered in the previous financial years. The EPR target for importers from 2023-24 onwards is 100% of the eligible quantity.
For Brand Owners: In the case of Brand owners, for the calculation of the EPR target, the eligible quantity will be the average weight of virgin plastic packaging material (category-wise) purchased and introduced in the market in the last two financial years (A) plus the average quantity of (B) of pre-consumer plastic packaging in the last two financial years. The EPR targets for Brand owners for the year 2023-24 will be 100% of the eligible quantity.
The Producer, importer and Brand Owner will need to ensure a minimum level of recycling that does not include end-of-life disposal as a part of their EPR target, as per the table below.
|Plastic category||2024-25||2025-26||2026-27||2027-28 and onwards|
Note: The identified entities must fulfil their respective EPR obligations and targets to keep operating in the country.
The centralised CPCB portal plays a crucial part under the EPR for plastic packaging. Apart from EPR registration, the portal also provides for calculating annual EPR targets for PIBOs, maintaining records of recycling plastic packaging waste, and keeping check on entities engaged in waste plastic packaging.
CPCB’s EPR portal is operational and assists in the EPR-related obligations in all these sectors. It is a centralised platform for the entire nation. It works as a single-point data repository for EPR registration, submission of data related to the operation of PIBOs/ trading of EPR certificates and submission of annual returns. The EPR guidelines also include providing heavy environmental compensation, surprise inspection by agencies, and cancellation of their CTO/ closure of the facility.
If you are a business that introduces a product in plastic packaging in the market in the four plastic categories (rigid, flexible, multi-layered or compostable plastic), you will need to fulfil your EPR for plastic packaging and achieve your recycling targets generated by the portal. As a business falling under the PIBO category, you can collaborate with registered recyclers/co-processors/ and PWPs who can recycle proportionate plastic waste on your behalf or purchase EPR certificates from recyclers. PIBOs that are operational in one or two states/UTs are also required to register with the concerned SPCB/PCC. In case of EPR registration, you will need a copy of the valid consent certificate, the Company’s PAN, CIN & GST (the combined copies of GST invoices in all the States/UTs where the PIBO is operating), the authorised person’s PAN & Aadhar, details of the quantities of plastic packaging, etc. The EPR-related modalities for PIBOs can, however, be complex and time-consuming. So, it is recommended that the identified entities take the assistance of EPR experts in registration and EPR-related compliance management from experts.
Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) is a concept under which producers are given a significant financial and/or physical responsibility for the treatment or disposal of products post-consumption.
EPR aims to place responsibility on certain stakeholders for the proper recycling/disposal of plastic waste. The government had issued a notification in this regard in 2022 known as the EPR Guidelines to outline the EPR obligations of PIBOs.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) focuses on the responsibility of the producer for the impacts of their product in the final stage of its life cycle, after consumption, and gives producers a greater motivation to design products that minimise environmental and health impacts.
The Guidelines stipulate fulfillment of annual targets on EPR, recycling of plastic packaging waste, diverting majority of recyclable plastic waste into the recycling sector instead of disposal and using recycled plastic into the manufacturing process. The guidelines aims towards sustainable plastic packaging and reducing the plastic footprint of plastic packaging.
EPR isa practice and a policy approach in which producers take responsibility for managing the disposal of products they produce once they are designated as no longer useful by consumers.
Read our Article: EPR Authorisation for Plastic Waste Management