EPR Awareness
EPR Authorization
Social Entrepreneurship
EPR Compliance
EPR and Circular Economy

Have you heard environmentalists and world leaders speak volumes about the importance of implementing strategic waste management? It is certainly a need of the hour, owing to the increasing problems of environmental crises and hazardous human conditions. To further the purpose of waste management, a strategic policy known as Extended Producer Responsibility EPR is brought into the limelight. Sounds a little too technical, right? Well, EPR refers to a tactical policy approach that obligates producers and manufacturers to work out ways for an end-to-end treatment and disposal of post-consumer products.

Simply put, Extended Producer Responsibility EPR encourage producers to do more than look into the conventional sale of the products. Accordingly, a producer is liable to extend the life of products and ensure methodic and environmental-friendly disposal of products. In short, a producer is responsible for collecting the packaging materials and consumed products and ensuring safe disposal and recycling of the same.

Is EPR really needed?

Before answering if EPR awareness is truly worth the hype, let’s look into a few vital stats:

• As per data, the world creates 2.01 billion tonnes of waste every year

• The count is expected to scale to 3.40 billion tonnes by the end of 2050

• India ranks as one of the leading contributors of solid waste globally

• The country generates over 62 million tonnes of solid waste annually.

The numbers are undoubtedly shocking. What’s even more alarming is that only 20% of the generated waste is effectively recycled.

Wondering what happens to the remaining waste? It either ends up in landfills or is disposed of in oceans. What’s more, 90% of the waste is recycled by the informal sector under unsafe and unregulatory conditions.

Since the primary idea behind EPR awareness is to bestow producers with the responsibility of maximising the recycling of products in a regulated manner, the policy is significant in the given hour. Why just recycle? Extended Producer Responsibility also motivates producers to reconsider designing products into more long-lasting and recyclable variants. This naturally prolongs the end-of-life of products and reduces the number of disposals by leaps and bounds.

If you are not already aware, the expenses of collecting, treating and disposing of the consumed products are way too high. This quite explains why businesses and manufacturers choose to defy EPR compliance or rely on the governments to safely treat and discard the products without impacting the environment. Extended Producer Responsibility EPR aims to encourage producers to bear the costs and responsibility of setting up regulated systems for collecting and recycling the products.

Speaking of waste, did you know that India is the third largest producer of electronic waste in the world today? The nation generates over 2 million tonnes of e-waste every year. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of authorised dismantlers and recyclers to dispose of and treat the mounting electronic waste the right way. Think about it – from the minute electronic chips to regular food packages, multi-layered plastics (MLPs) and toxic chemicals are present in pretty much everything. Irresponsibly trashing products in oceans and landfills causes severe health and environmental repercussions. EPR authorisation envisions countering these odds in a strategic and well-planned way.

What are the current EPR policies in India?

It is a no-brainer that Extended Producer Responsibility EPR intends to encourage brand owners, producers, manufacturers, recyclers, pollution control boards, and waste management companies to act on collecting, processing, and initiating sustainable disposal of wastes. One of the primordial rules of managing and handling E-waste was first formulated in 2011. According to the rule, then, all producers of electronics were liable to set up reverse logistics to collect and channelise the consumed or trashed electronics to authorised recyclers.

In March 2016, the policy was amended with the new E-waste management rules in accordance with the proposed norms by the "Ministry of Environment Forest And Climate Change." According to the new rules, producers are obliged to abide by strict targets to collect and recycle end-of-life products gradually and optimally. For example, a producer can start by recycling 30% of the products in the first two years to an increasing the ratio to 70% by the seventh year. The policy also ensures a simplified process of applying for EPR authorisation.

Why just E-waste? The Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 holds producers liable to ensure that manufacturing non-recyclable plastic products are completely banned.

Speaking of EPR compliance, the industry response is quite impressive in the various sectors. For example, more than 150 electronics manufacturing giants have registered for EPR authorisation. However, there’s definitely a little resistance from the industry circles stating that the targets are impractical and ambitious in the given Indian market.

A large number of plastic manufacturers are yet to sign up for EPR authorisation. It is no secret that plastics, especially multi-layered plastics, comprise various categories of plastic and non-plastic elements, such as aluminium foil, that are non-recyclable. Hence, entrepreneurs are still brooding over setting up collection channels to treat and recycle plastic products.

Of course, there are multiple challenges in implementing EPR-compliant methods. But, industries are certainly invested in strategising ways to segregate, recover, and recycle waste the right way. Helping businesses and individuals with better EPR awareness and compliance are organisations like Karo Sambhav.

Karo Sambhav collaborates with leading organisations to jointly develop industry frameworks, standards, governance mechanisms, systems and processes that advance the transition to circular economy. know more about our alliances.

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