Centre releases draft regulations to manage plastic packaging waste

This year for Independence Day, the Centre had requested citizens of India to not use plastic in any form nor promote it. India has been looking forward to banning plastic for the longest time. Now, it has come out with draft regulations for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) under Rule 9 (1) of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, wherein the EPR shall be applicable to both pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic packaging waste.

According to the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 mandate the generators of plastic waste to take steps to minimise the generation of plastic waste, not to litter the plastic waste, ensure segregated storage of waste at source and hand over segregated waste to local bodies or agencies authorised by the local bodies. 

These rules apply to local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators, retailers and street vendors to manage plastic waste.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has invited comments from the stakeholders within 60 days of the publishing of the draft regulations, after which the final notification will be issued, said the Secretary in the ministry, R.P. Gupta.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) basically means the producer is responsible for the product till its very end of life and has to ensure reverse collection after the consumer has deemed it as waste.

The draft regulations cast EPR on producers, importers and brand owners for collection and recycling of plastic packaging waste and the EPR shall be applicable to both pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic packaging waste, according to the notification.

As reported by a news agency in September, providing a framework for the implementation of EPR, the regulation set out the roles and responsibilities of producers, importers, brand owners, CPCBs/SPCBs/PCCs, recyclers and waste processors for effective implementation of EPR.

Three kinds of plastic packaging categories have been identified to be covered under EPR: Rigid plastic packaging; Flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets or like and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carry bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches; and multilayered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic).

The manufacturer will be deemed responsible for managing the reversal from the consumer end and for recycling or treating plastic packaging waste. The notification also mentioned category-wise and year-wise targets for the producers.

(With inputs from DNA India)

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