Whose waste is it?

For about three years now, India has a law that requires all companies to recover the plastic they use to package their products. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules in March 2016 which mandated extended producer responsibility (EPR) for all plastic producers, importers and brand owners (PIBOs). PIBOs did not take concrete steps in 2016-17 to meet their targets under EPR. But with the advent of producer responsibility organisations (PROs) in 2018, they have outsourced their EPR targets, which can lead to a new set of problems.

PROs are registered companies that collect and process waste on behalf of PIBOs. “With a PRO, producers do not physically take back the product. Instead, they support the process financially,” says Ashish Jain, director, Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA), the first registered PRO of India (see ‘We ensure waste compliance’).

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