You must have encountered sometime with huge deposits of plastic waste in your region. The majority of which is almost always the single-use plastic bags that we use in our daily life. Whenever we go to the market we return with at least one or mostly multiple plastic bags. All of this goes to waste the next day. It either end up in landfills or in many places dumped in the open. This plastic waste remains exactly like that because of its non-degradable nature. A portion of it is recycled if segregated and collected properly but considering the very high amount of plastic production, recycling is not going to help a lot to fight the plastic pollution crisis.
The Government of India identified some kinds of single-use plastic and banned manufacturing, import, sale, and distribution. This was a good move on the papers but we could not see any remarkable impact on the ground. There is some lack in the implementation of the orders and the results are disappointing. Even today plastic bags are freely available in the market. The reasons may be the lack of awareness or the lack of alternatives to such plastic items. These plastics, when exposed freely to the environment, pose a big threat to wildlife as small animals get entangled with the plastic debris and some animals may mistake it for food. It may restrict their movement, create digestive problems, and in extreme cases, can also lead them to death.
Similarly, it also affects marine life and poses a threat to marine creatures. It was found in a study that sixty-two percent of debris collected from the Atlantic Ocean was plastic. In some regions, the plastic count reached 20,000 pieces per square kilometer. In the north pacific subtropical gyre, this count hits more than 3 lakh pieces of plastic per square kilometer. Considering the threat of plastic pollution in the environment it is inevitable to have strict rules for the governing bodies as well as the producers of such plastic waste. The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 is in force to regulate plastic waste in the country. It was amended several times since then and a detailed guideline of EPR Compliance for plastic waste was added to the rules in 2022 through an amendment. In this article, we are going to explore the rules regarding the management of plastic waste compliance which producers need to follow if they are involved in the business of specified products.
What is Plastic Waste?
To understand the process of Compliance for Plastic Waste, we need to closely understand the definition of plastic waste as per the applicable rule. In Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, plastic is defined as-
“The ‘plastic’ means a material which contains as an essential ingredient a high polymer such as polyethylene terephthalate, high-density polyethylene, Vinyl, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene resins, multi-materials like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyphenylene oxide, polycarbonate, Polybutylene terephthalate.” And plastic waste is defined as-
“The ‘plastic waste’ means any plastic discarded after use or after their intended use is over.”
Plastic materials are listed in the definition of plastic and if a company produces any product that contains any of these materials then the product will fall under this definition. Any waste originating from these products will be called plastic waste and has to be managed under these rules. All the producers that are involved in the business of plastics need to fulfill the EPR Compliances for Plastic Waste as prescribed in these rules.
Scope of EPR Compliance for Plastic Waste Management
The EPR guidelines apply to and create obligations on the producer, importer, brand owner, and plastic waste processor. It also applies to plastic waste processors that are involved in recycling, making energy from waste, making oil from waste, and industrial composting. Brand Owners include online platforms, marketplaces, supermarkets, and retail chains. These guidelines do not apply to Micro and Small Enterprises that are defined by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India.