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everything you need to know about epr

Everything You Need To Know About Epr

Building a Truly Sustainable Brand


Let this sink in for a minute: By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by weight. To combat the alarming effects of plastic pollution on the planet, more than 66% of countries worldwide have adopted some form of plastic regulation, including bans, taxes, or restrictions. Many countries, including India, have also implemented stringent Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, shifting the responsibility for managing post-consumer products and packaging waste from taxpayers to producers.



This article offers a detailed discussion on EPR in India, and how organisations and its stakeholders can take greater ownership, go beyond regulation, and proactively seek ways to reduce their environmental footprint throughout supply chains.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): The Basics

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a pivotal policy approach that places the onus on producers, importers, and brand owners for managing their products from inception to disposal, encompassing everything from design to end-of-life processes, including post-consumer waste. Within EPR frameworks, organisations are mandated to address the environmental consequences of their products across their entire life cycle and enable a circular economy by reintroducing recycled materials back into the value chain. 

Why Should You Care, as a Product Brand?

Implementation of EPR fosters sustainable practices and holds companies accountable for waste management, thereby mitigating the burden on landfills, conserving resources, and reducing pollution. By emphasising recycled materials and prolonging product use, EPR advocates for a circular economy. In fact, studies show that transitioning to a circular economy could possibly generate $4.5 trillion in additional economic output by 20302.

Embracing EPR signifies a commitment to environmental stewardship, lets your brand stand out among eco-conscious users, and helps you get a bigger piece of the market share in a sustainability-driven ecosystem. This strategic approach is indispensable for achieving environmental objectives and fostering a more sustainable future for generations to come.

EPR in India

The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 (PWM Rules), introduced by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), necessitate plastic waste generators to undertake measures to reduce waste generation, prevent littering, segregate waste, and comply with regulations regarding waste disposal.

Subsequently, in February 2022, the Ministry issued comprehensive guidelines concerning Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) specifically targeting plastic packaging. These guidelines delineate the duties and obligations of various stakeholders, including producers, importers, brand owners, recyclers, and waste processors, in the effective implementation of EPR initiatives. Through the mechanism of EPR, the PWM Rules have allocated responsibility to producers, importers, and brand owners (PIBOs) for managing plastic waste.

Who is Covered by the EPR Guidelines?


  • Producers (P) of plastic packaging: Producers / manufacturers are directly responsible for the products they produce and the packaging materials they use. Under EPR guidelines in India, manufacturers are required to take responsibility for the collection, recycling, and safe disposal of post-consumer waste generated from their products. This means implementing systems to manage and recycle packaging materials to minimise environmental impact and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

  • Importers (I) of all imported plastic packaging or products with plastic packaging: Importers bring products into the Indian market, often packaged in materials subject to EPR regulations. As such, they must adhere to the same responsibilities as manufacturers and brand owners regarding the collection and recycling of packaging waste. Importers need to ensure that the products they import comply with EPR guidelines and collaborate with relevant stakeholders to implement waste management systems.

  • Brand Owners (BO) including online marketplaces, supermarkets, and retail chains (except micro and small enterprises):Brand owners are typically responsible for the design, marketing, and distribution of products, including their packaging. EPR guidelines mandate that brand owners share responsibility for managing the end-of-life disposal of their products’ packaging. They need to collaborate with manufacturers to establish systems for collecting and recycling packaging waste, ensuring that their products are environmentally sustainable throughout their lifecycle.

Core Principles the EPR is Built On :


EPR in India is founded on the principles of accountability, sustainability, and collaboration, aiming to create a more resilient and environmentally conscious approach to waste management and resource utilisation.



  1. Shifting Responsibility on PIBOs: EPR mandates that producers, manufacturers, brand owners, and importers, bear responsibility for managing the post-consumer waste generated from their products. This includes collection, recycling, and safe disposal of packaging materials.

  2. Incentivising Sustainability: EPR aims to minimise the environmental impact of products and packaging by promoting waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. Producers are incentivised to design products and packaging that are easier to recycle and incorporate recycled materials into their production processes.

  3. Circular Economy: EPR promotes the transition towards a circular economy, where resources are used efficiently, and waste is minimised through reuse, recycling, and regeneration. Producers are encouraged to adopt sustainable practices that support the circular flow of materials, reducing reliance on virgin resources and mitigating environmental pollution.

  4. Regulatory Framework: EPR guidelines provide a regulatory framework for implementing producer responsibility, specifying obligations, targets, and timelines for waste management. It includes provisions for monitoring, enforcement, and compliance mechanisms to ensure adherence to the regulations.

  5. Stakeholder Collaboration: EPR encourages collaboration among stakeholders, including producers, government agencies, waste management companies, and consumers, to develop and implement effective waste management systems. Collaboration ensures that responsibilities are shared, and resources are utilised efficiently to achieve common sustainability goals.

  6. Innovation and Technology: EPR fosters innovation and the adoption of advanced technologies in waste management, recycling, and resource recovery. Producers are encouraged to invest in research and development to improve recycling processes, develop eco-friendly packaging solutions, and explore alternative materials. 

EPR Obligations Under PWM Rules in India


  1. Registration:


    • PIBOs need to register with the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or Pollution Control Committee (PCC) within the stipulated time frame, typically within 6 months from the date of commencement of the rules.

    • The registration process involves providing details such as company information, types of products or packaging materials handled, manufacturing or import volumes, and contact information.



  1. Collection and Channelisation:



    • PIBOs are responsible for establishing a robust system for the collection of post-consumer plastic waste generated from their products or packaging.

    • They must ensure the segregation, storage, and transportation of collected waste to authorised recyclers, or waste processors.

    • Collaboration with local authorities, waste management agencies, and informal sector workers (such as waste pickers) may be necessary to facilitate effective collection and channelisation.



  1. Waste Management Plan (WMP):



    • PIBOs are required to prepare a comprehensive Waste Management Plan (WMP) outlining strategies and mechanisms for plastic waste management.

    • The WMP should include details such as the methodology for waste collection, transportation, segregation, recycling infrastructure, stakeholder engagement, and financial provisions.

    • PIBOs must submit the WMP to the SPCB or PCC for approval within the specified timeframe, typically within 6 months to 1 year from the date of registration.



  1. Financial Responsibility:



    • PIBOs need to allocate financial resources to support the implementation of the approved WMP.

    • This may include contributing to the State Plastic Waste Management Fund, establishing a separate fund for EPR activities, or directly financing collection, transportation, and recycling initiatives.

    • Financial provisions should cover the costs associated with infrastructure development, operational expenses, public awareness campaigns, and compliance reporting.



  1. Compliance Reporting:



    • PIBOs are obligated to submit periodic compliance reports to the SPCB or PCC as per the prescribed format and schedule.

    • These reports should provide details on the progress made in implementing the WMP, including data on waste collection, recycling rates, outreach activities, and any challenges faced.

    • Non-compliance with reporting requirements may lead to penalties or sanctions, highlighting the importance of accurate and timely reporting.



  1. Awareness and Education:



    • PIBOs are encouraged to undertake awareness and educational initiatives to promote plastic waste management and recycling among consumers, retailers, and other stakeholders.

    • This may involve organising workshops, seminars, and outreach programs to raise awareness about the environmental impact of plastic waste and the importance of responsible consumption and disposal.

EPR Targets Under PWM Rules in India

Annual EPR Targets: Producers, importers, and brand owners must set annual EPR targets for plastic packaging waste collection and management (recycling and end-of-life disposal). These targets will increase gradually over the next few years.

Extended Producer Responsibility target




























Year



Extended Producer Responsibility target (as a percentage of Q1 – category-Wise)



I



2021-22



25%



II



2022-23



70%



III



2023-24



100%



The Extended Responsibility target in MT category-wise, as applicable, shall be provided by Producer, as part of Action Plan on the centralised portal developed by Central Pollution Control Board.

Recycling:
The EPR Rules mandate a minimum level of recycling required for each plastic packaging category.

Use of recycled plastic content:
Producers and importers will have to use a certain percentage of recycled plastic in their packaging materials over time.

End-of-life disposal:

Plastic waste that cannot be recycled can only be disposed of through approved methods like co-processing in cement kilns or waste-to-energy facilities.


Beyond Regulation: Why Sustainability Makes Sense




Enhanced ESG Score:
Embracing the circular economy offers brands a pathway to enhance their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) score, translating into tangible reductions in resource consumption. Through innovative solutions and sustainable practices, you can achieve up to a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions, along with decreased water and energy usage, thereby fostering a more sustainable business model.


Improved Brand Image: Becoming a truly sustainable brand not only improves brand image but also positions your brand as leaders in sustainability within their respective industries. By appealing to eco-conscious consumers and implementing strategic marketing initiatives centred on sustainability, you can elevate your reputation and differentiate yourselves in the market as responsible stewards of the environment.


Increased Consumer Loyalty and Market Share: A sustainable partnership empowers brands to cultivate consumer loyalty and expand market share through sustainability initiatives. By embracing environmentally conscious practices and engaging with customers on sustainability issues, your brand can strengthen relationships with existing consumers and attract new segments who prioritise sustainability in their purchasing decisions.


Waste Reduction: Transitioning to sustainable materials and recycling practices allows brands to play an active role in reducing waste and pollution under the PWM Rules. By adopting circular economy principles and prioritising recycling, you can contribute to environmental preservation and promote a more sustainable future.


Cost Efficiency and Supply Chain Optimisation: In addition to environmental benefits, being a part of the circular economy offers cost efficiencies and supply chain assurance. By stabilising material costs through sustainable sourcing and recycling solutions, your brand can optimise your supply chains and potentially reduce waste management expenses, ultimately driving long-term sustainability and resilience.


Regulatory Compliance: Compliance with EPR policies is critical for brands to avoid penalties and uphold regulatory standards. By implementing sustainable practices, your brand can ensure adherence to EPR regulations, demonstrating their commitment to corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability.


The Hulladek Impact


At Hulladek, we’re revolutionising the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) by offering more than just recycling solutions. Our mission is to bring recycled materials back into the value chain, creating data-driven, consumer-centric impact. With our innovative technology and advanced recycling systems, we transform plastics into a circular resource that can be reused multiple times, effectively reducing new fossil fuel extraction, CO2 emissions, waste generation, and landfill dumping. By partnering with us, you’ll not only meet compliance standards but also build a brand known for its planet-friendly solutions that resonate with consumers and align with your values.



The Road Ahead: A Truly Circular Economy


By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.8 billion3, placing increasing pressure on global resources and ecosystems. EPR combats this by becoming a powerful tool for promoting sustainable practices across industries. As EPR programs continue to evolve, we can expect to see a significant shift towards a more circular economy. By adopting a circular approach, brands can demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability, enhance their corporate reputation, and unlock new opportunities for growth. Through partnerships with organisations that build sustainable solutions, brands can also navigate the complexities of EPR compliance with confidence, while realising the numerous benefits of embracing the circular economy. Together, we can create a future where our trash doesn’t come back to haunt us but becomes a valuable resource for a more sustainable tomorrow.