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Draft EPR notification: Producers told to manage plastic packaging waste

To reduce the environmental impact of plastic packaging, producers, importers and brand owners will have to conform to stringent rules to manage the waste under extended producer responsibility (EPR), the environment ministry said in a draft notification that has been put up for public comments.

The draft specifies the quantity of plastic waste that producers, importers and brand owners have to manage. It will remain open to comments for 60 days.

“People can send in their comments to us,” an environment ministry official said, requesting anonymity. “We have had consultations with industry bodies also on the EPR regulation.”

Under EPR, producers and brand owners have to take significant responsibility for the treatment or disposal of plastic waste. It covers three categories of packaging – rigid plastic packaging; flexible plastic packaging of single or multiple layers with different types of plastic; and plastic sheets, carry bags (including bags made of compostable plastics) and plastic sachets or pouches.

The environment ministry has specified formulas to determine the extent of responsibility, stiffening the targets in incremental steps for both producers and brand owners. Producers, importers and brand owners of plastic waste will also be allowed to trade in EPR certificates.

All producers, importers, brands, recyclers, etc., will have to be registered with the Central Pollution Control Board through an online portal. The federal pollution watchdog will issue guidelines for imposition and collection of environment compensation, penalties on producers, recyclers and end-of-life processors for violating obligations specified in the regulations, and also for violations of conditions such as sharing false information.

“This notification brings clarity and opportunities for industry to start working on compliances,” said Hiten Bheda, chairman, environment committee, All-India Plastics Manufacturers Association, a lobby group. “Prima facie, this notification seems to be giving overall directions and clarity on several issues and sets the processes. However, there could be some challenges due to ground realities, which need to be mitigated.”

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