EPR is giving much Needed Momentum To Plastic Waste Management in India


Plastic is one of the most adaptable modern innovations. Plastic has molded itself into the various shapes required to meet complex human needs. Every element, however, has its limitations. Excessive production and use of plastics has resulted in irreversible damage to our ecosystem, resulting in additional socioeconomic costs to our development vision.

The Policy Times and The Shakti Plastic Industries with Ramky, RECYCLEAN, and GRC India organized a National Conference on “Roadmap for EPR implementation of Plastics in India” on Thursday 18th November 2021. The supporting partners of this event were MRAI, IPI, ICCE, EcoEx, Sampurna(e)arth, Greenscape, and BRICS.

Link to the Online Conference-https://youtu.be/aNwTthe Z5pcaIc 

The main agenda of this conference was to discuss the provisions of the Draft Notification for the Regulation of EPR under the 2016 Plastic Waste Management Rules. The policy’s goal is to address the prohibition of single-use plastics. Over 300 stakeholders from recyclers, waste management associations, sustainability officers, and pollution control boards attended this national conference, each bringing a unique perspective to the effective dissemination and implementation of this policy.

Five organizations received The Policy Times Sustainability Business Excellence Award 2021 for outstanding contributions in Waste Management under EPR Services during the conference. The recipients of this prestigious award were Dabur India Ltd., The Shakti Plastics, Ramky Enviro, EcoEx, and Vrindavan Plastics Industries.

Shri Sameer Unhale, Joint Commissioner, Directorate Municipal Administration, Maharashtra, “A global and national consensus is emerging to create sustainable, safe, and livable cities, making the discussion of plastic waste management all the more important. EPR is a regulatory framework with an incentive to redirect society’s behavior. The use of digital technologies to ensure plastic waste segregation, collection, transportation, reprocessing, and certification, so that plastic waste can be treated as a resource to be reused. Connecting ragpickers, houses, Municipal Corporations, and recyclers via an app that eliminates information asymmetry and makes the process more efficient. The EPR must change the temperament of people in such a way that they look at the model not as regulation but as a business opportunity. Municipal bodies can be important partners in EPR”.

Dr. Thomas Chandy, Chairman, Sikkim State Pollution Control Board – “Although the draft regulations are very comprehensive and well thought out, the PIBOs that put out their product in the market are located outside of these states, such as Sikkim, and we can only access them through the distributor network and retailers.” It is critical to include dealers and distributors in the definition of PIBOs and hold them equally accountable. It would be far more cost-effective to establish recyclers within the states to reduce the carbon footprint of this initiative. To ensure fulfilling set targets, PIBOs must collaborate closely with the pollution control board. Finally, there is a provision for citizen feedback and monitoring. One should be able to report inconsistencies in policy implementation, through the same.”

Dr. Arup Kumar Misra, Chairman, Pollution Control Board, Assam, “The cost of collecting and recycling plastic packaging materials is frequently much higher than the revenue generated by selling items. We require mechanisms for cost-coverage funding that are both dedicated and sufficient. The institution of an “EPR corpus fund” is devoted to key issues that contribute to waste generation. An incentive-based approach is used to attract large players in the recycling industry by creating a profitable recycling market. Informal waste pickers and rag pickers are being trained and integrated into the existing regulations.”

Shri Rajiv Kumar,(IFS Retd), Chairman, SEAC, Government of Uttar Pradesh, “The concept behind EPR  certificates is not pragmatic as it is telling stakeholders to pay and continue to pollute. This approach fails to address the primary issue of production, and does little to stop the production of single-use Plastics at source”.

Mr. Masood Mallick, Joint MD Ramky EnviroEPR is an environmental protection strategy that is designed to integrate the environmental costs connected with the goods throughout their life cycles.”

“The Extended Producer’s Responsibility essentially has 3 dimensions- 1. Economic Responsibility–  Whereby costs of waste collection, recycling, and final disposal are deemed to be the economic responsibility of the manufacturer or producer. 2. Physical Responsibility–  A Manufacturer must ideally take the responsibility to cover all expenses associated with the end-of-life plastics in a physical capacity. Disseminating Information–   Producers/manufacturers must disseminate the information regarding the constitution of their plastics for responsible and maximum recycling.

Contextualizing the 2021 EPR draft, it is critical to analyze the Collaboration of Multiple Stakeholders in the status quo. EPR inherently embodies an ecosystem-based responsibility that takes multiple stakeholders into its ambit. Stakeholders being – PIBOs, Consumers, Informal Sector, ULBs, Waste Management Agencies, Recyclers, Co- Processors, PCBs, and theMoEF&CC.”

Mr. Rahul V. Poddar, MD, The Shakti Plastics speaking in the context, reiterated, the emphasis should now shift to the standardization of the quality of recovery materials recycled from waste, so that it can be proven to be a viable option for the industry and economically beneficial to stakeholders. This could also fund waste collection, segregation, and transportation, thereby improving waste collection. Finally, in order for recyclers to reap the full benefits of waste, it is necessary to channelize and standardize waste collection in order to improve the collection, sorting, and segregation. Training and awareness campaigns for informal workers could help to close the gap.

Mr. Tusar Pattnaik, Corporate Head – EHS & Plastic Waste Management, Dabur India Ltd- “ EPR gave the much-needed momentum to plastic waste management in the nation. Dabur is working towards connecting with various stakeholders in different layers of the ecosystem throughout the nation. We plan to go plastic neutral by March 2022. To maximize the overall impact we not only plan to reduce the use of plastics and papers in packaging but also increase the absorption of recycled plastic into our packaging.EPR poses both opportunities and challenges. The first point of contention is the new amendment, which is not completely consistent with the old Rules, putting implementation and compliance at odds. Secondly, the recycling infrastructure lacks the capacity to meet the set target and quality recycled material required for the ambitious vision of 100 % recycled plastics usage. Because of the scarcity of infrastructure, the goal also is commercially not viable for stakeholders. Finally, in FMCG, this may jeopardize food safety, bringing with it associated risks.“

Dr. Dhiraj Kumar Singh, MD, GRC India, “EPR is one of the critical intersections where the transparent and committed contributions of all involved stakeholders are required to achieve the ambitious vision of a nationwide ban on single-use plastic. Only then will we be able to achieve our collective goal of making India self-sufficient and sustainable.”

Smt. S. Sreekala, Member Secretary, Kerala State Pollution Control Board, ” EPR has the potential to be adapted for large brands, but it is a difficult task to adapt, deploy, trace, and audit by statutory authorities for small, medium, and unnamed brands. we are facing some major issues with non-branded plastics as it is difficult to put regulations on them.”

Shri Bishu Karmakar, Member Secretary, Tripura State Pollution Control Board, ” A considerable amount of IEC activities would be beneficial for the implementation of EPR.”

Mr. Manish Agarwal, Director, Vrindavan Plastic Industries, “EPR has made recycling and material recovery an organized and profitable sector. However, the conscious and obligatory participation, awareness of every stakeholder including consumers is necessary for maximum leverage”.

Mr. Akshaya Rath, CEO, EcoEx, “If we want to achieve a plastic neutral nation, we must familiarize the authorities and executives in rural parts of India with the concept of EPR because Panchayats and ULBs are the critical links to waste recovery”.

Mr. Amar Singh, Secretary-General, Material Recycling Association of India, EPR is going to create a chain of actions a new economically beneficial industry

Ms. Shalini Goyal Bhalla, MD, International Council for Circular Economy- “Regulatory boards accountable for EPR implementation must act as enablers rather than only regulators with local bodies as executors of action”.

Mr. DebarthaBanerjee, Co-Founder And Director, Sampurn(e)arth, “ We have a multi-stakeholder approach for waste management. For recyclable fraction, we have material recovery facilities set up in association with ULBs and decentralized pollution certified profit-sharing recycling facilities with ground-level informal workers”

Mr. Pankaj Shah, Chairman, Indian Plastic Institute, Indian EPR needs to be tailored to suit the constitution of a vast number of entities with different socio-economic and cultural constitutions.

Dr. Suneel Pandey, Senior Fellow & Director, Environment and Waste Management Division, TERI, “The focus of EPR should be broadened in context with achieving ease of recycling, innovative changes in packaging and design (upstream processes), rather than just collecting already generated plastic wastes. The partnership between PIBOs and ULBs is required along with a transparent monitoring mechanism to reward compliance and to penalize the defaulters.”

Ms.Maggie Lee, Lead, Plastic Program, Verra, ” Our Plastic Waste Reduction Standard, which was launched in February 2021 and allows plastic credits to be traded globally, has received an overwhelming response from eligible projects, potential buyers, and other stakeholders. We can assist PIBOs in India in meeting their corporate net circularity commitments by utilizing our Guidelines for Corporate Plastic Stewardship and Plastic Waste Reduction Standard.”

Mr. Surojit Bose, AVP, sustainability, climate change, and ESG, Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd., “SOP should be digitized for API (Application programming interface) on the CPCB portal so that PROs can input data through their platforms. Because a large number of recyclers have yet to register, collecting recyclers’ certificates from registered recyclers will result in discrepancies. The tradable certificate has the potential to distort carbon credits for many organizations”

Mr. Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mahindra Group, “We should either form a new organization or evolve the present Pollution Control Board into a Circular Economy Promotional Board, where the focus is not only on Pollution prevention but also on the creation of value”.

Ms. Juhi Gupta, Head Sustainability PepsiCo India, “PepsiCo, as a part of their EPR implementation, has worked closely with industry consortiums to help shape EPR.

Mr. Ankur Chaturvedi, AVP-Business Excellence & Quality, Emami, “Regulation can not drive sustainability but habit and spirit can”

Mr. Akram Hoque, Founder-Editor, The policy Times,- “ As a developing nation India is a significant contributor to global growth with equal responsibility. Sustainable development will accelerate nation-building. Waste management and recycling are two very crucial links as these two facilitate material recovery, natural conservation while preventing plastic pollution. India has a huge possibility to take advantage of low cost recycled materials for the country’s manufacturing industry, taking the example of neighboring country China’s exemplary success in this aspect”.

The National conference had insights from distinguished figures from the ecosystem namely, Mr. Akhilesh Bhargava, AVI Global Plas Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Milind Samant, Corporate EHS Head, Alkem Laboratories Ltd., Dr. Sameer Joshi, Treasurer, Indian Plastic Institute, Mr. Manish Pathak, 3R Management Pvt. Ltd.

The conference created a very well-rounded discussion from different stakeholders involved for the opportunities and possible challenges brought forward by this policy to be taken into account for the achievement of the vision of a plastic neutral world.