The Environment Ministry has listed draft rules that made it compulsory for producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024 and make sure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled and even used in subsequent supply.
It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging can gather certificates known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates and even trade in them.
The notice is now sought to come into force by 6th December and for now, is open to public feedback
Plastic that can’t be recycled like multi-layered multi-material plastics shall be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposal like road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil and cement kilns, and even here too, only methods that are listed by the Central Pollution Control Board will be allowed for their disposal.
As of 2019, about 660,787.85 tonnes of plastic waste is made in India every year, of which around 60% is almost reportedly recycled. Nearly 43% is packaging material and the maximum is single-use plastic.
Plastic packaging, according to the rules made public on 6th October, fall into 3 categories: The first is “rigid” plastic; category 2 is “flexible plastic packaging of a single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carrying bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches; and the third category is known as multi-layered plastic packaging, which has at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.
Producers of plastic shall be obliged to announce to the government, via a centralized website, how much plastic they make annually. Companies shall have to take at least 35% of the target in 2021-22, 70% by 2022-23, and 100% by 2024.
There are the same targets, with slight variations, for companies that use packaging material and also import them.
If entities can’t solely fulfill their obligations, they shall on a “case by case basis” be allowed to buy certificates making up for their shortfall from organizations that have used recycled stuff more than their obligation. The CPCB will announce a “mechanism” for such exchanges on a centralized online portal.
Non-compliance, however, will not invite a traditional fine. Instead, an “environmental compensation” shall be imposed, though the rules do not state how much this compensation will be.
Entities that don’t meet their targets or do not buy enough credits to meet their annual target have to pay a fine. Were they to meet their targets within 3 years, they stand to get a 40% refund.
From July 2022, the production of a range of plastic products must be banned. These include earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, thermocol for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic, or PVC banners less than 100 microns, and stirrers.