Decoding the new 'Uniform Framework for Extended Producers Responsibility' under Plastic Waste Management Rules

July 4, 2020
Extended Producer Responsibility

The proposed amendments to the Uniform Framework for EPR prepared by MOEF in June 2020 will alter the existing methodology of EPR fulfilment for producer brands. While the amendments are welcome in that, it attempts to ensure that EPR spends by brands be channelized to genuine and legitimate stakeholders (including waste processors), thus giving way to a new era of infrastructure build-up for India, the proposed framework also requires brand owners to redefine the value of transparency, traceability and eventual accountability in EPR fulfilment.

The proposed EPR framework under Plastic Waste Management (PWM) rules promises a simplified structure - brand and geography neutral - allowing PIBO’s to plan EPR fulfilment based on national targets rather than on state-specific rules. This greatly enhances EPR fulfilment capabilities for brand owners.

8 THINGS THAT WE SEE CHANGING AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE PRODUCER BRANDS

1. Material Types

Suggested Guidelines


EPR fulfilment will need to be done across all material categories - MLP, PET, LDPE, PP, HDPE, Tetra Pack etc but is brand agnostic


What it means

The previous rules highlighted MLP and were silent on other categories. However, the revised framework clarifies and requires fulfilment across all plastics categories.


2. Defining Targets

Suggested Guidelines

EPR fulfilment targets will be scaled up from 30% to 90% within 5 years


What it means
Producers should define EPR targets on supporting data that can be made available for audits. Brands should study geographies where they sell and define targets further by cities and also consider adding municipal corporation jurisdictions, towns etc for added granularity.


3. Action Plan

Suggested Guidelines

All brands within 6 months shall work out the modalities for waste collection based on EPR involving ULB's, individually or collectively, through their distribution, through PRO/service agencies or though the local body concerned and submit an action plan.


What it means
Preparing a detailed action plan requires brands to carefully study existing distribution systems, EPR targets, experience so far, and plan for contingencies. Brands should assess the uniqueness of their product, avenues for creating consumer awareness; so that the EPR action plan can call for a long-term self-sustainable model for EPR fulfilment.


4. Inward Plastics

Suggested Guidelines

Compliance with Form III - supplier details for inbound plastics, types of plastics used, volumes consumed nationally to be recorded

What it means

Brands need additional vigil on inbound plastics that they consume to prepare finished goods. Such details may attract greater audits going forward.

5. Fulfilment Options

5A. Fee-Based Model

Suggested Guidelines

To contribute to the EPR corpus at the central level. The primary responsibility for awareness, collection, segregation & disposal remains with ULBs

What it means

This is relevant for brands with small targets.

5B. PRO Model

Suggested Guidelines

Brands can authorize PRO's / Service Providers to fulfil EPR targets on their behalf. PRO's will liaise with waste value chain stakeholders. End to end documentation for material channelization will need to be provided and not only recycling certificates.

EPR fulfilment will be audited and certified by an independent agency and certificates can only be issued upon strict control systems. Digital waste traceability will be enabled by QR codes or blockchain technology and safe disposal certificates by PRO's will be visible to registered users on national registry platforms.

What it means

The role of the PRO/service agency will evolve greatly. PRO's will issue safe disposal certificates if material flows are traceable, validation will be done digitally, PRO's will need to prove non-duplication of transactions.

Brands should gear up for self-audits, digital data-keeping, and build sustainability teams that can ensure that PRO's carry out the work as per these stipulations. Data management will need to move digitally for enhanced scrutiny and compliance.

5C. Plastics Credit Model

Suggested Guidelines

Similarly, the plastics credit model will require PIBO's to acquire evidence of recycling or co-processing, we expect this to be akin to a marketplace for carbon credits

What it means

PIBO's will be mandated to acquire evidence of recycling or co-processing. Model similar to that of carbon credits. More details required here.

6. Innovations - Voluntary Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS)

Suggested Guidelines

The framework allows brands to individually or collectively engage in DRS. In such a scheme, brands/consortium's can voluntarily raise retail prices to include a deposit which is refunded upon return of the packaging by the consumer.

What it means

DRS would potentially allow brand-owners complete visibility into the collection and take-back process, ensure high quality of material collections which in turn would result in better recycling rates and a sustainable model for EPR fulfilment. Brands can deliberate about the use of QR codes on their packaging as a means to leapfrog into this.

7. Awareness

Suggested Guidelines

Spends incurred on awareness campaigns and capacity building are not considered towards compliance with EPR obligation (except in the fee-based model where the Government uses the funds for the purpose). This can be spent under the CSR budget.

What it means

Brands must ensure that awareness is carried out by ULB's in fee-based method and by PRO's. There should also be awareness among the informal sector, in addition to consumer awareness.

8. Digital EPR

Suggested Guidelines

The national registry, owned by the Government, will require all stakeholders to register, implement a traceability and accountability system to enable data-driven practices. Regulators will monitor EPR responsibility digitally

What it means

This calls for an end to physical filings for brands, including resolution of issues/queries. The digital EPR will accelerate our pace to move towards the mass-balance and true authenticity of EPR activity.

Anirudha Jalan

Co-founder, Recykal

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