The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 introduced the concept of EPR to manage plastics in India. While the EPR is at a nascent stage in the Indian sub-continent, the last five years have failed to translate policy into action, due to the lack of accountability from the producers and lack of enforcement from the authorities. The latest draft rules have managed to take a small step in the right direction. To understand the policy better and the framework, The Policy Times talked to Mr. Ashish Jain, founder of the Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA) on the proposed draft policy. IPCA is a not-for-profit, non-government organization (NGO) promoting waste management practices at individual, group, and national levels.
- The waste hierarchy lays out the order of priority for the most preferred and the least-preferred option for managing all the streams of waste in which the most preferred option is waste minimization. Unfortunately, this is perceived and left alone as a theoretical option and we never try to translate this into action. The draft EPR policy is no different. Can you share your views on this?
Ans- You are right. The original intention or objective of the EPR Rules and regulations is to minimize plastic waste generation and its impact. The responsibility for the collection of post-consumer plastic waste especially MLP was extended to its producers including brand owners and importers and the message was very clear in PWM Rules. We have a poor collection and segregation mechanism in place for the waste and if PIBOs extend their responsibility by appointing the right agency or providing incentive tools to the waste workers or if they create infrastructure, which helps in creating a sustainable supply chain of MLP or other plastic waste, the impact of plastic waste can be reduced. We are expecting a draft EPR policy to bring more clarity on how to execute EPR obligations and the methodology of EPR. EPR policy should highlight the important stakeholders and their role, who can strengthen the supply chain.
- The template for the action plan, however, is not discussed or provided anywhere. The “must, should, and could” elements have not been talked about. Why?
ANS- Action plan should be there and it should be submitted on yearly basis to the regulatory body. This will ease the execution of EPR on the ground but the process of making an EPR action plan should be briefed to the PIBOs. It’s been five years, PWM Rules were notified and published by MoEFCC but still, the majority of PIBOs are not aware of the process of the EPR action plan and have no idea, from where it should get verified and approved.
- The centralized portal developed by CPCB is a closed-door portal, which can only be accessed by the PIBOs, plastic waste processors, recyclers, etc. Do you think there should be transparency in the proposed process?
ANS- The CPCB portal is only for the registration of producers and brand owners and it was not for the submission of the EPR progress report. Since Brand Owners submit the confidential data on the portal, it should not be viewed by all stakeholders but it can be viewed by the SPCBs/PCC so that they may be updated on the EPR target in their State/UT and the brand owner registration status.
- Can you brief us on the vision and aspirations for the draft policy, and what prospects lie ahead for the MoEFCC and CPCB?
ANS- First of all draft policy should be an extension of PWM Rules 2016 and it should not be presented as the additional rules. The policy should bridge the gap of PWM Rules and subsequent amendments and be easy to understand and execute. It should not revise the target scheme as PIBOs have already started doing 100% EPR. The proposed scheme of reusing plastic containers has lots of practical issues and challenges.
The policy should be linked with the ground reality and doable so that it brings maximum participation of the stakeholders.
Mr. Ashish Jain, Founder,
Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA)