Principles of extended producer responsibility (hereinafter referred to as ‘EPR’) have been the core of most of the recent policies and legislation dealing with the end of-life management of recyclable goods. The rising consumption of a range of complex durable goods over the years has resulted in a serious environmental problem. Proper management of the waste thus generated has been a matter of serious concern for policy makers. The authorities in the last decade has imposed the burden on the producers of these goods to be responsible for their end of-life management. The producer may also choose to delegate this responsibility to a third party, a so-called producer responsibility organization (‘PRO’), which is paid by the producer for used product management.
Extended producer responsibility and Polluters pays principle
Most of these policies are based on the principle of EPR, which makes the producers responsible for the environmental impacts throughout the life-cycle of products. EPR is based on the polluter-pays principle (PPP’), but emphasises life-cycle impact of the products. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (‘OECD’) defines EPR as ‘an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle including its final disposal’. EPR is not part of corporate social responsibility (‘CSR’), instead it is part of sustainable business practice.
In India, the concept of PRO is recognized in two sectors namely, plastic waste management and e-waste management. The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, and Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, imposes primary burden on the producer for collection of waste plastic electronic products. They need to establish a system for collecting back the waste generated due to their products.
PRO is defined as a professional organization authorized or financed collectively or individually by producers, which can take the responsibility for collection and channelization of e-waste generated from the ‘end-of-life’ of their products to ensure environmentally sound management of such e-waste. A PRO/Agency is a professional organization that helps Producers/Brand Owners meets their EPR targets through various processing technologies for plastic waste including MLP or its End of Life applications like Waste to Energy, Waste to fuel, Waste to Road and Waste to cement kiln in the country.
Role of PRO
PRO assist the producers upon engagement in one or more of the following tasks–
- Achieving collection targets,
- Establishment of collection mechanism such as door to door collection.
- Implementation of buy back/take back
- Establishment. of collection centers/points this may include setting up of collection godowns or operating through warehouses as per the guidelines issued by Central Pollution Control Board (‘CPCB’)
- Logistics arrangements
- Ensuring traceability of the e-waste collected and channelized & disposal of processed waste & end of life plastic waste.
- Ensuring Environmentally sound dismantling and recycling.
- Conducting awareness programme among consumer's/bulk consumers/producers for collection and channelization waste
- Helping producers in filing of quarterly/annual returns as per the rules.
- Provide an extended producer’s responsibility plan as legally required.
Capacity and capability of PRO
A PRO/Agency should specify its capacity for handling waste, which include capacity for collection, storage and recyclers with whom it has arrangement for recycling of such waste. A PRO should also be capable of channelizing plastic and electronic waste for meeting the collection targets of its Producers/Brand Owners.
Registration and Recognition of PRO
The application form which is to be submitted to CPCB for registration of PRO is annexed with the guidelines for both plastic as well as electronic waste management. The guidelines for e-waste management does not stipulate any minimum requirements for registration of PRO, while guidelines for plastic waste management stipulates following minimum requirements –
- Registration from any Statutory Body;
- Minimum 5 years’ experience in Waste Management (Municipal Solid Waste & Plastic Waste);
- Success stories for disposal of Municipal Solid Waste & plastic waste;
- TAN, GST & PAN numbers.
However, in both the case, CPCB has the authority to scrutinize, verify and examine the application and decide accordingly. The target time for response by CPCB shall be 25 days.
The registration under E-waste management Rules shall be valid for a period of three years. An application for renewal of registration shall be made before 60 days of its expiry. Any appeal shall lie before the Chairman of the CPCB.
Regulation of PRO by CPCB is a positive step in waste management process. The success of EPR and PRO depends on the upstream management, like having an effective regulatory framework highlighting the role of different stakeholders and proper guidelines for producers. PRO plays important role as it is responsible for carrying out collection, transportation and recycling on behalf of the producers.