Guidelines for the implementation of Extended Producers Responsibility for Plastic Packaging.
By Dr. Yashpal Singh
The Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 have been amended by the MoEF & CC and notified on 16-02-2022 vide GSR No. 133 E. The said amendment prescribes guidelines for the implementation of Extended Producers Responsibility for Plastic Packaging. Definitions as amended till July 2022.
- These guidelines were enforceable with immediate effect when published on 16-02-22
- Extended producer responsibility has been defined as the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life. End of Life disposal means using plastic waste for generation of energy subject to relevant guidelines in force, which includes co-processing (e.g. in cement, steel or any other such industry) or waste to oil, except in cases where feed stock chemicals are produced for further use in the production of plastic which may then be considered under recycling or for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines etc.‘; which implies (End of life disposal as defined) using plastic wastes for generation of energy and include co-processing (e.g., in Cement Kiln) or waste to oil or for road construction as per the Indian Road Congress guidelines etc.
- Going by the definitions as in these guidelines, persons/companies would fall in the category of Brand owners if they are selling any commodity under a registered brand label or trade mark. Producers would include persons/companies engaged in manufacture or import of carry bags or multilayered packaging or plastic sheets or like, and includes industries or individuals using plastic sheets or like or covers made of plastic sheets or multilayered packaging for packaging or wrapping the commodity;Importer means a person who imports plastic packaging product or products with plastic packaging or carry bags or multilayered packaging or plastic sheets or like and Plastic Waste Processors means recyclers of plastic waste as well as entities engaged in using plastic waste for energy (waste to energy) including in co-processing or converting plastic waste to oil (waste to oil) except in cases where feed stock chemicals are produced for further use in the production of plastic which may then be considered under recycling , industrial composting;
- Plastic packaging has been classified into four categories which include rigid plastic packaging (Cat. I); flexible plastic packaging including flexible packaging of single layer or multilayer, plastic sheets or like or covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags, plastic sockets or pouches(Cat.II); multi layered plastic packaging which includes any material used or to be used for packaging and having at least one layer of plastic as the main ingredients in combination with one or more layers of materials such as paper, paper board, polymeric materials, metalized layers or aluminium foil, either in the form of a laminate or co-extruded structure;(Cat. III) and Packaging made of Compostable plastics (Cat. IV.)
- Compostable plastics mean plastic that undergoes degradation by biological processes during composting to yield CO2, water, inorganic compounds and biomass at a rate consistent with other known compostable materials, excluding conventional petro-based plastics, and does not leave visible, distinguishable or toxic residue
- Biodegradable plastics means plastics, other than compostable plastics, which undergoes degradation by biological processes under ambient environment (terrestrial or in water) conditions, without leaving any micro plastics, or visible, or distinguishable or toxic residue, which has adverse environment impacts, adhering to laid down standards of Bureau of Indian Standards and certified by the Central Pollution Control Board. The EPR guidelines do not make any mention of Biodegradable Plastics for EPR. They refer to Compostable plastics.
- Producers, Importers, Brand Owners and Plastic Waste Processors are covered under the obligations of the amended guidelines.
- These E.P.R. guidelines provide targets forreuse, recycling, use of recycled plastic content and end of Life disposal with respect to plastic packaging.
- The guidelines prescribe a system of Registration of Producers, Brand Owners,Importers and Plastic Waste Processors. Registration of Producers, Brand Owners, Importers operating in one or two states and all plastic waste processors would be done through a Portal developed by the Central Pollution Control Board and granted by the State Pollution Control Board or Union Territories Pollution Control Committee.
- Registration of Producers, Brand Owners, Importers operating in more than 02 states is to be done by Central Pollution Control Board.
- After the notification of these guidelines, entities starting their business in a particular year will have EPR Target obligations from the year following.
- No business shall be carried out without proper registration by any Producer, Importer, Brand owner or Plastic Waste Processor nor would they engage with any agency not registered.
- Submitting false information at the time of registration or not adhering to conditions of registration would invite revocation for a year and no fresh registration would be available for the period of revocation.
- Brand owners, Producers, Importers and Plastic waste Processors will have to seek registration for each activity (Producer, Importer, Brand Owner, Plastic Waste Processor) separately.
- In case any entity falls in more than one sub-category mentioned in the guidelines(Producer, Importer, Brand owner or Plastic Waste Processor) then the entity shall register under each of those sub-categories separately. Further, in cases, where the entity has units in different states, in a particular sub-category(Producer, Importer, Brand Owner, Plastic Waste Processor) then these units shall also be registered separately. However, only one registration under a sub category in a state would be needed, even if, more than one unit are located in a state. The registration shall be as per Standard Operating Procedure laid down by Central Pollution Control Board for the purpose, as per these Guidelines
Responsibility of Producers
- A procedure has been prescribed to assess the eligible quantity of waste generated and the targets for achieving E.P.R. to be achieved by producers have been fixed at 25% by 2021-22, 70% by 2022-23 and 100% by 2023-24. This target has to be made available on the CPCB portal by the Producer as part of the action plan.
- Producers will have to achieve a minimum level of recycling excluding end of Life disposal. The targets fixed as a percentage of the EPR Targets are 50% for 2024-25, 60% for 2025-26, 70% for 2026-27 and 80% from 2027 onwards for rigid plastic packaging and 30%, 40%, 50% and 60% respectively for the years as above for Flexible packaging of single layer or multilayer, plastic sheets or like or covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags, plastic sockets or pouches. Similar targets (as for flexible packaging) are prescribed for multi layered plastic packaging. Producers using plastic sheets and carry bags made of compostable plastics for packaging will have to achieve 50,60,70 and 80% respectively. Recycling in the case of compostable plastics would mean the quantities subjected to industrial bio-composting.
- Only those plastics which cannot be recycled, shall be sent for end-of-life disposal including for road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil, cement Kilns (for co processing)etc. as per relevant guidelines and methodologies as prescribed.
- The producer will have to compulsorily ensure use of recycled plastic in plastic packaging. Producers will have to ensure at least 30% use of plastic manufactured for theyear in 2025-26, 40% reuse in 2026-27, 50% reuse in 2027-28 and 60% reuse from 2028 onwards for rigid plastic packaging, 10%, 10%, 20% and 20% reuse for the years as above for flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multi-layer (more than one layer with different kinds of plastics), plastic sheets or like and covers made of plastic sheets, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches and 5, 5, 10 and 10% for multi layered packaging for the years. In case on account of statutory requirements it is not possible to achieve the use as above the exemption shall be granted by the CPCB on a case-to-case basis and such units will have to purchase certificates from those producers, importers and recyclers who have recycled in excess of their mandatory obligations. The CPCB will develop a mechanism for such exchange.
Responsibility of Brand Owners
- Brand owners will have to achieve E.P.R. Targets of 25% of Eligible quantity by 2021-22, 70% by 2022-23 and 100% by 2023-24. Procedures have been prescribed in the guidelines to calculate the Eligible quantity.
- Minimum obligations have been prescribed for the reuse of rigid plastic packaging. For rigid plastic packaging with a volume or weight between 0.9 liters or kg to 4.9 liters or kg. a 10% reuse has to be ascertained by 2025-26, 15% by 2020-27, 20% by 2027-28 and 25% from 2028 onwards. For rigid plastic packaging above 4.9 liters or Kg a reuse of 70%, 75%, 80% and 85% shall be ensured for the years as above.
- The guidelines also prescribe a minimum level of recycling of plastic packaging wastes by Brand owners. Under this 50%, 60%, 70% and 80% of rigid plastic packaging has to be recycled (excluding end of life disposal) during 2024-25, 2025-26, 2026-27, 2027-28 and onwards, 30%, 40%, 50% and 60% of Flexible plastic packaging and multilayered packaging has to be recycled in the years as above and 50, 60, 70 and 80% respectively has to be achieved for compostable plastics. Recycling in the case of compostable plastics would mean the quantities subjected to industrial bio-composting
- Only those plastics that cannot be sent for recycling shall be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil, cement kilns etc. as per prescribed guidelines and procedures.
- The obligation of brand owners to achieve use of recycled plastic content is the same as that for producers. The Brand owner will have to compulsorily ensure use of recycled plastic in plastic packaging and to ensure at least 30% use of plastic manufactured for the year in 2025-26, 40% reuse in 2026-27, 50% reuse in 2027-28 and 60% reuse from 2028 onwards for rigid plastic packaging, 10%, 10%, 20% and 20% reuse for the years as above for flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multi-layer (more than one layer with different kinds of plastics), plastic sheets or like and covers made of plastic sheets, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches and 5, 5, 10 and 10% for multi layered packaging for the years as above. In case on account of statutory requirements it is not possible to achieve the use as above the exemption shall be granted by the CPCB on a case-to-case basis and such units will have to purchase certificates from those producers, importers and recyclers who have recycled in excess of their mandatory obligations. The CPCB will develop a mechanism for such exchange.
- The E.P.R. would promote sustainable packaging.
- In case the packaging is 100% biodegradable as certified by agencies designated in the guidelines the EPR targets would not apply.
Generation of Surplus
- A producer, brand owner or importer who has fulfilled the E.P.R. targets category wise can use the surplus to –
- Offset previous year short fall.
- Carry forward for use in succeeding years.
- Sell it to other producers, importers and brand owners.
- Producers, importers and Brand owners can also meet their E.P.R. Targets by purchasing surplus Extended Producer Responsibility Certificates from other Producers, Importers and Brand owners of the same category. The CPCB will develop a mechanism for such exchange on the centralized portal.
Imposition of Compensation
- The SPCB shall levy an environmental compensation on units operating within the respective states and the CPCB shall levy this compensation on units operating in more than 02 states. This E.C. would be returned if the unfulfilled EPR targets as carried over to the next three years are fulfilled within 03 years of the shortfall being generated as below
- 75% return if targets met within 1 year of levying EC.
- 60% return if within 02 years of E.C levy
- 40% return if within 03 years of E.C.
- The E.C. would be forfeited if the carried over obligations are not achieved in 03 years.
Producer’s, importers or Brand owners will have to
- Obtain a registration
- Provide an action plan on the Extended Producer Responsibility targets along with the applications for registration as per the SOP to be developed by CPCB.
- Maintain records (Brand owners) providing details of plastic packaging purchased from Producers and Importers and this quantity shall be deducted from the EPR targets for such producers/importers.
- Maintain and provide records (Producers and Importers) on the details of plastic packaging sold to Brand owners and this quantity will be deducted from their targets. If the records are not maintained or submitted the Producers/Importers will have to fulfill the complete responsibility.
- Introduce and operate schemes such as deposit refund or buy back or other models to help the plastic wastes not mixing with other solid wastes.
- File annual returns or plastic packaging wastes collected and processed by 30th June for the previous financial years.
Plastic waste processors including recyclers or other waste processors
- Will have to register on the CPCB portal and obtain registration from the State Pollution Control Board
- Certificates for plastic waste processing shall be issued in the name of registered Producers, Importers, Brand Owners or Local authorities only by registered plastic waste processors.
- The plastic waste processors would submit the amount of plastic waste processed as attributed to producers, Importers and Brand owners on an annual basis.
Development of Plastic Waste Collections Systems by PIBO’s
PIBO’s may establish waste collection centers and material recovery facilities, ensure the collection of plastic waste from the collection points, offer collection of plastic wastes from other entities, ensure that the waste collected is properly recycled or used in a designated manner. Participation of voluntary collection points is provided.
- Need to address to certain anomalies in the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 as amended
- Sugar Industries as Producers, Brand Owners and Waste Generators. Ensuring compliance to the Plastic Waste Management and Handling Rules 2016
- Central Pollution Control Board, India defers the process of registration of Producers, Importers and Brand Owners under the PWM Rules