Plastic has multiple uses and the physical and chemical properties lead to commercial success. However, the indiscriminate disposal of plastic has become a major threat to the environment. In particular, the plastic carry bags are the biggest contributors of littered waste and every year, millions of plastic bags end up in to the environment vis-a-vis soil, water bodies, water courses, etc and it takes an average of one thousand years to decompose completely. Therefore, to address the issue of scientific plastic waste management, the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 were notified in 2011, which included plastic waste management. The Government has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and amendments to it in 2018 and 2021.
Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 aim to:
- Increase minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 micron for plastic sheets also to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste
- Expand the jurisdiction of applicability from the municipal area to rural areas, because plastic has reached rural areas also
- To bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in plastic waste management system and to introduce collect back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per extended producers responsibility
- To introduce collection of plastic waste management fee through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic carry bags/multilayered packaging and vendors selling the same for establishing the waste management system
- To promote use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilization of waste and also address the waste disposal issue; to entrust more responsibility on waste generators, namely payment of user charge as prescribed by local authority, collection and handing over of waste by the institutional generator, event organizers.
- An eco-friendly product, which is a complete substitute of the plastic in all uses, has not been found till date. In the absence of a suitable alternative, it is impractical and undesirable to impose a blanket ban on the use of plastic all over the country. The real challenge is to improve plastic waste management systems.
What's new in Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
- Rural areas have been brought in ambit of these Rules since plastic has reached to rural areas also. Responsibility for implementation of the rules is given to Gram Panchayat.
- First time, responsibility of waste generators is being introduced. Individual and bulk generators like offices, commercial establishments, industries are to segregate the plastic waste at source, handover segregated waste, pay user fee as per bye-laws of the local bodies.
- Plastic products are left littered after the public events (marriage functions, religious gatherings, public meetings etc) held in open spaces. First time, persons organising such events have been made responsible for management of waste generated from these events.
- Use of plastic sheet for packaging, wrapping the commodity except those plastic sheet’s thickness, which will impair the functionality of the product are brought under the ambit of these rules. A large number of commodities are being packed/wrapped in to plastic sheets and thereafter such sheets are left for littered. Provisions have been introduced to ensure their collection and channelization to authorised recycling facilities.
- Extended Producer Responsibility: Earlier, EPR was left to the discretion of the local bodies. First time, the producers (i.e persons engaged in manufacture, or import of carry bags, multi-layered packaging and sheets or like and the persons using these for packaging or wrapping their products) and brand owners have been made responsible for collecting waste generated from their products. They have to approach local bodies for formulation of plan/system for the plastic waste management within the prescribed timeframe.
- State Pollution Control Board (SPCBs) will not grant/renew registration of plastic bags, or multi-layered packaging unless the producer proposes the action plan endorsed by the concerned State Development Department.
- Producers to keep a record of their vendors to whom they have supplied raw materials for manufacturing carry bags, plastic sheets, and multi-layered packaging. This is to curb manufacturing of these products in unorganised sector.
- The entry points of plastic bags/plastic sheets/multi-layered packaging in to commodity supply chain are primarily the retailers and street vendors. They have been assigned the responsibility of not to provide the commodities in plastic bags/plastic sheets/multi-layered packaging which do not conform to these rules. Otherwise, they will have to pay the fine.
- Plastic carry bag will be available only with shopkeepers/street vendors pre-registered with local bodies on payment of certain registration fee. The amount collected as registration fee by local bodies is to be used for waste management.
- Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been mandated to formulate the guidelines for thermoset plastic (plastic difficult to recycle). In the earlier Rules, there was no specific provision for such type of plastic.
- Manufacturing and use of non-recyclable multi-layered plastic to be phased in two years.
To access the complete Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, click here..
Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 on March 27, 2018.
The amended Rules lay down that the phasing out of Multilayered Plastic (MLP) is now applicable to MLP, which are "non-recyclable, or non-energy recoverable, or with no alternate use."
The amended Rules also prescribe a central registration system for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner. The Rules also lay down that any mechanism for the registration should be automated and should take into account ease of doing business for producers, recyclers and manufacturers. The centralised registration system will be evolved by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner. While a national registry has been prescribed for producers with presence in more than two states, a state-level registration has been prescribed for smaller producers/brand owners operating within one or two states.
In addition, Rule 15 of the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 on "explicit pricing of carry bags" has been omitted.
To access the complete Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018, click here..
Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021
Keeping in view the adverse impacts of littered plastic on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 on August 12, 2021.
The rules prohibits identified single use plastic items which have low utility and high littering potential by 2022.
The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of following single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July, 2022:-
- ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [Thermocol] for decoration;
- plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.
In order to stop littering due to light weight plastic carry bags, with effect from 30th September, 2021, the thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from fifty microns to seventy five microns and to one hundred and twenty microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022. This will also allow reuse of plastic carry due to increase in thickness.
The plastic packaging waste, which is not covered under the phase out of identified single use plastic items, shall be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility of the Producer, importer and Brand owner (PIBO), as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. For effective implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility the Guidelines for Extended Producer Responsibility being brought out have been given legal force through Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
To access the complete Rules, click here..
Source : Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
- Salient Features of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and its likely implication