Govt announces Plastic Waste recycling targets

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What is the news?

Recently the Environment Ministry has issued draft guidelines for controlling the use of plastic. The notification was expected to come into force by December 6 and, as of now, was open to public feedback.

What are the various categories under it?

These divide the guidelines into three categories.

Rigid plastics: These are plastic products that do not give easily when squeezed. For example, many large and bulky items like lawn chairs, buckets, toddler toys etc.

Flexible: It contains packaging of a single layer or multilayer, plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carry bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches.

Multilayer: It consists of products that have at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.

What are the new rules?

Mandatory collection: They mandate producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024. It aims to ensure that a minimum percentage of it is recycled and used in subsequent supply.

EPR Certificates: It has also specified a system where makers and users of plastic packaging can collect Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates and trade in them.

Disposal: Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled such as multi-layered multi-material plastics will be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, and waste to oil and cement kilns.

Here too, only methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will be permitted for their disposal.

Centralized website: Producers of plastic will have to declare to the government how much plastic they produce annually, via a centralized website.

What are the targets for collection and recycling?

Targets for Collection: Companies will have to collect at least 35% of the target in 2021-22, 70% by 2022-23 and 100% by 2024.

Targets for recycling: In 2024, a minimum of 50% of their rigid plastic (category 1) will have to be recycled along with 30% of their category 2 and 3 plastic.

Each subsequent year will see progressively higher targets. After 2026-27, 80% of their category 1 and 60% of the other two categories will need to be recycled.

What if entities fail to fulfil the rules?

If entities cannot fulfill their obligations, then they will be permitted to buy certificates on a “case by case” basis. They can make up for their shortfall from organizations that have used recycled content in excess of their obligation. The CPCB will develop a “mechanism” for such exchanges on a centralized online portal.

Non-compliance would not invite a traditional fine. Instead, an “environmental compensation” would be levied.

Source: This post is based on the article “Govt announces Plastic Waste recycling targets” published in The Hindu on 13th October 2021.

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