Regulatory policy

What does the new PWM law mean for plastic waste management in India?

Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) published a Draft EPR Policy for Plastic Waste Management in India on October 6, 2021. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a key policy mechanism that helps advance the circular economy, reduce the environmental impact of a product and its packaging, and promote the “polluter pays” principle by holding the producer responsible for the entire product life cycle.

the Plastic waste management Rules, 2016 introduced the concept of EPR to manage plastics in India. While ERP is at a nascent stage in the Indian subcontinent, the last five years have failed to translate the policy into action, due to lack of producer accountability and lack of enforcement on the part of authorities. The latest draft rules have managed to take a small step in the right direction.

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The objectives of EPR

• Integration of environmental costs
• Improved waste management
• Reduced elimination
• Reduced burden on municipalities
• Design of environmentally friendly products


  1. It financially incentivizes manufacturers to design for recycling and make products last longer When producers face the financial or physical burden of recycling their electronics after use, they can be incentivized to design electronics that are more durable, less toxic, and more easily recyclable. Using fewer materials and designing products that last longer can directly reduce end-of-life costs for producers. Thus, Extended Producer Responsibility is often cited as a way to combat planned obsolescence, as it financially incentivizes manufacturers to design for recycling and make products last longer.
  2. Pressures on governments could be eased By assigning some of the financial responsibility for payment and waste management to the generator, pressures on governments can be alleviated. Making producers responsible for disposing of their products can give governments more freedom to create legislation that benefits sustainability at little cost to both parties, while raising awareness of the issues that EPR seeks to address.
  3. EPR policy puts pressure on countries exporting e-waste treat waste It is becoming increasingly effective as EPR policy puts pressure on countries exporting their e-waste. Regulating this e-waste requires infrastructure to deal with waste or implement new ways to create products from producers. As more and more countries adopt these policies, it prevents other countries from ignoring the problems.

For example, when China stopped importing e-waste from the United States, a backlog of waste formed at ports. The lack of infrastructure around e-waste recycling in the United States has been possible due to export capacity and producer negligence. The pressure of this growing e-waste landfill is forcing countries to have their own infrastructure and will force more government, state and federal regulations to be imposed on producers.


  1. Mandate would slow innovation and hinder technological progress Such laws could increase the cost of electronics because producers would add recycling costs to the original price. When companies are required to transport their products to a recycling facility, it can be expensive if the product contains hazardous materials and has no scrap value, such as with CRT televisions, which can hold up to five pounds. lead. Organizations and researchers opposed to EPR say the mandate would slow innovation and hinder technological progress. Manufacturers can use take-back programs to remove used electronics from the reuse market, shredding rather than reusing or repairing the goods destined for recycling.
  2. EPR policies do not accelerate environmentally friendly designs EPR policies are not accelerating environmentally friendly designs because “manufacturers are already beginning to move towards reduced material usage per unit of output, reduced energy consumption in manufacturing and delivery of each product and an improvement in environmental performance”.
  3. EPR is unclear on how fees are set for particular recycling processes The Reason Foundation argues that REP is unclear in how fees are set for particular recycling processes. Fees are in place to help encourage recycling, but this may discourage the use of manufacturing with better materials for various electronics. There are no fixed costs for some materials, so confusion arises when companies don’t know what design features to include in their devices.

Impacts of the draft EPR policy

  • Brand owners and e-commerce players have been placed under REP
  • EPR now applies to pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic packaging waste
  • Producers and brand owners (PIBO) are finally given collection targets for the plastic waste they put on the market
  • Provisions and targets for the collection, reuse (by brand owners), recycling (by PIBOs) and use of recycled plastic (by PIBOs) have been defined
  • Semi-annual plastic characterization studies

Policy recommendations:

  • Include the first principle of waste management Reduction/minimization of plastic waste in the EPR mandate
  • Compostable and biodegradable plastics should have an REP collection and processing mandate
  • Ambiguity around the action plan to be submitted by the PIBOs
  • Inclusion of the informal sector in the REP project


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What does the new PWM law mean for plastic waste management in India?

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While the EPR is still in its infancy, the latest draft regulations have managed to take a small step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how policy translates into action and engages all stakeholders


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