Ashish Jain, Director, Indian Pollution Control Association weighs on the wisdom of the new regulations governing the use of plastics.
Current rules, regulation and policies of Government of India are looking promising for the strengthening of the circular economy through ensuring maximum recycling of post consumer plastic waste and reducing the consumption of virgin plastic. Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022 are very specific and easy to understand with clear cut directions to the stakeholders on their roles and responsibility.
Producers, Importers and Brand Owners (PIBOs) can now calculate their EPR eligibility on their own by using the formula prescribed in the rules. The said rules will also bring better coordination among SPCB/PCC and CPCB as all registration applications will be channelised through a centralised online portal developed and maintained by CPCB. All SPCB/PCC will have access to the data and reports will be submitted by the PIBOs. Effective EPR for plastic waste will be implemented at the grassroot and all stakeholders will have all required information through the portal.
The Rules also mandate the minimum reuse and recycling target for the PIBOs under their EPR obligation, which will strengthen the circular economy and increase the life cycle analysis of plastic. There may be some challenges of reusing the post consumer plastic container or packaging by the industries and therefore, the Ministry has given one year time for its implementation. During this period, PIBOs must either work out a possible action plan for reusing packaging or make representation to the Ministry along with challenges envisaged; we may have more amendments to the rules.
There is a mandate for phasing out 19 listed items of single use plastic by 30th June; this is a courageous step by the government to eliminate non-essential plastic items from the ecosystem and promote alternatives of Single Use Plastic. All central and state government authorities are seeming very aggressive in successful elimination of the listed 19 items of SUP.
There is a direction from CPCB to SPCB/PCC to not provide or renew consent to operate to those industries which are involved in manufacturing of listed 19 SUP items. The directions also mention control of supply of raw material (both virgin and scrap) to the manufacturer of SUP items.
It is well understood that people’s behavior will not be changed overnight and there may be some challenges in elimination of single use plastic. Therefore, alternatives to single use plastic items need to be identified and the production of such alternatives must be supported. Small Help Groups (SHG) who are engaged in such activities need to be identified and promoted by the state authority along with small and medium scale enterprises.