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Extended Producer Responsibility and Global Sustainability Goals in Plastic Waste Management in India


Extended Producer Responsibility and Global Sustainability Goals in Plastic Waste Management in India Plastic waste has become a global environmental challenge, with India being one of the world’s most significant contributors. The management of plastic waste is intricately linked to global sustainability goals, and one key strategy in addressing this issue is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This blog will explore how EPR can help India achieve global sustainability goals by effectively managing plastic waste.

I. Plastic Waste in India:

India’s rapid economic growth and urbanisation have led to a significant increase in plastic consumption. The per capita plastic consumption has increased, causing a surge in plastic waste generation. This poses severe environmental challenges, including land and water pollution, harm to wildlife, and greenhouse gas emissions. India has taken significant steps towards managing plastic waste to mitigate these impacts and align with global sustainability goals.

II. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR):

EPR is an approach that shifts the responsibility for managing waste from the public sector to the producers of goods. It requires manufacturers to take responsibility for their products throughout their lifecycle, including proper disposal and recycling. EPR has been successfully implemented in many countries to address various types of waste, including plastics.

III. Global Sustainability Goals and Plastic Waste:

A. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

The United Nations has set ambitious sustainability goals, including SDG 12, which focuses on responsible consumption and production. Managing plastic waste aligns with SDG 12, as it reduces environmental impacts, conserves resources, and promotes sustainable consumption patterns.

B. The Paris Agreement:

The Paris Agreement targets to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The plastic production process, as well as the degradation of plastic waste in landfills, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Proper plastic waste management through EPR can help mitigate this impact.

C. The Basel Convention:

The Basel Convention is an international treaty that oversees the transboundary movement of hazardous waste (HW). Plastics often contain harmful chemicals, and the mismanagement of plastic waste poses risks to human health and the environment. Implementing EPR can reduce the export of plastic waste and ensure proper disposal.

IV. EPR in India:

A. The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016:

India launched the Plastic Waste Management Rules in 2016, which included EPR provisions. Producers were made responsible for the collection, recycling, and safe disposal of post-consumer plastic waste. This step marked a significant shift towards more sustainable plastic waste management.

B. Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs):

Under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, producers can meet their EPR obligations by collaborating with PROs. These organisations facilitate the collection and recycling of plastic waste, creating a more organised and efficient waste management system.

C. Success Stories:

Several companies in India have embraced EPR voluntarily, demonstrating that responsible plastic waste management is a legal obligation and a sustainable business practice. Initiatives such as ‘Clean India Green India’ have shown that EPR can make a significant difference in managing plastic waste.

V. The Role of Innovation:

To meet global sustainability goals, innovation is crucial. India has a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem that has an essential role in creating innovative solutions for plastic waste management. This includes the use of technology for efficient waste collection and recycling, the development of sustainable plastic alternatives, and the promotion of circular economy principles.

VI. Challenges and Concerns:

Despite the potential benefits of EPR in plastic waste management, India faces several challenges and concerns:

A. Informal Recycling Sector:

India has a significant informal recycling sector that relies on plastic waste for their livelihood. The transition to formalised recycling processes may disrupt their income and well-being.

B. Lack of Awareness:

Public awareness about plastic waste and EPR is limited, which hinders the effective implementation of EPR programs.

C. Enforcement and Monitoring:

Effective enforcement and monitoring of EPR programs are critical to their success. Weak enforcement mechanisms can lead to non-compliance among producers.

D. Infrastructure:

India must invest in recycling and waste management infrastructure to support EPR effectively.

VII. Conclusion:

India’s approach to managing plastic waste through Extended Producer Responsibility is crucial in achieving global sustainability goals, including the United Nations SDGs, the Paris Agreement, and the Basel Convention. While there are challenges to address, EPR provides a framework for reducing plastic waste, conserving resources, and minimising the environmental impact of plastics. With innovation, public awareness, and effective enforcement, India can pave the way for sustainable plastic waste management and become a global model for addressing this pressing issue.

Diksha Khiatani

A writer by day and a reader at night. Emerging from an Engineering background, Diksha has completed her M. Tech in Computer Science field. Being passionate about writing, she started her career as a Writer. She finds it interesting and always grabs time to research and write about Environmental laws and compliances. With extensive knowledge on content writing, she has been delivering high-quality write-ups. Besides, you will often find her with a novel and a cuppa!