India generates thousands of tonnes of plastic waste every single day. This is not a problem considering the population of the country but problems arise when only sixty per cent of this waste gets collected. The remaining forty per cent does not even gets into the sight of the government and thus becomes a severe threat to the environment and health of the citizens. We just talked about plastic waste and there are several other types of waste including e-waste, battery waste, hazardous waste etc. When we take into account the overall amount of waste we are generating and a huge portion of it is not even reaching the treatment centre, the situation becomes more threatening and it becomes inevitable for the authorities to draft strict rules for waste management.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change took notice of this and made rules to regulate the production, import, transport, recycling and disposal of the products resulting in harmful waste. To take this situation under control, the Indian Government has released the list of EPR Compliance and notified new rules for the management of e-waste, plastic waste, battery waste, and hazardous waste. If we look at the latest releases then E-Waste Management Rules 2022, Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 (as amended in 2022), Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022 and Hazardous & Other Waste Management Rules, 2016 (as amended in 2022) are in force currently.
What is EPR Compliance in India?
EPR Policy is based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle. When a producer's product is no longer in need or use, it becomes the responsibility of the producer to dispose of it on his expenditure and keep the environment safe. The Government of India adopted this principle and accordingly drafted rules regarding EPR. EPR stands for “Extended Producer Responsibility”. Through EPR, the government extends the duties of businesses operating in the country beyond just manufacturing and distributing their products to keep a record of waste in circulation and dispose of or recycle them at the end of product life. It is an exercise and a policy method in which Producers take accountability for the proper disposal of the waste generated from their product. This way they fulfil their obligation to keep the environment clean and safe.
Protecting and improving our natural surroundings and environment is our constitutional mandate. It is widely accepted that the right to life under Article 21 also embraces the right to live in a wholesome, pollution-free, safe, and healthy environment. This has to be read with Articles 48-A and 51-A(g) which impose a duty on the State to preserve and improve the environment. It makes the State as well as the citizens responsible for the preservation of the natural environment. The CPCB, SPCB and PCC are responsible to monitor the producers and ensure that they comply with the standards laid down by the waste management rules and achieve the targets set through these rules.