Debunking few myths about Extended Producer Responsibility

January 16, 2023

India generates a humongous amount of plastic waste per year, 3.3 million metric tonnes per year according to the Central pollution control board. Out of this 60 percent of waste is recycled and the remaining is dumped in landfills and has an impact on the environment. To solve this issue, the government introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) through Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 in India. EPR is a practice where Producers, Importers, and Brand Owners are given responsibility for the collection and scientific disposal of their post-consumer waste. Although EPR is relatively new in India, companies are coming forward and getting EPR compliance done. As the concept is new, there are many doubts and myths that come up surrounding it. This blog will debunk a few myths about EPR.

a) The most rumored myth regarding Extended Producer Responsibility Program is that the industry-funded EPR programs will drive up the cost of the products:-

Even if it is true that EPR shifts the responsibility for end-of-life management of products and packaging upstream to producers, the cost of the products does not go up due to this. The producer responsibility costs are generally determined by:-

1. Type of policy, its stringency, its enforcement, and the expected outcomes from the policy.

2. Plastic types in the EPR (Multilayer or Non-MLP).

3. Which products are actually in the EPR regime and which are exempted

Hence, the cost to be paid for the EPR is divided and less. Instead, this cost of EPR can create incentives for producers to incorporate environmental considerations into the design of their products and packaging.

b) EPR programs are cliche and require bureaucratic oversight.

While government oversight is necessary to ensure a level-playing field, producer responsibility legislation is designed to minimize the government's role and provide flexibility to the industry in developing effective take-back programs. Striking the right balance between government oversight and control of system outcomes on the one hand, and producer flexibility and control over system implementation on the other is key to the success of EPR programs.

c) EPR Programs do not really address the environmental issues

EPR fundamentally changes the landscape of Plastic reduction and recycling. Well-designed EPR systems increase the recovery and recycling of Plastic, reduce contamination, and develop markets for difficult-to-recycle materials. EPR not only provides sustainable financing for recycling by placing financial responsibility for the system on producers; it can also transition legal responsibility for recycling performance and the burden of day-to-day recycling management away from the public sector, allowing limited public resources to be directed toward other priorities. Producers are ready for a harmonized system that can help them achieve a circular economy and meet their sustainability goals — and EPR provides a path to building this system.

d) EPR is the only way to reduce pollution.

No, there are other ways to reduce pollution like reusing, making smart choices, etc.

e) EPR program will not make any significant changes.

It is better to start than to maintain the status quo. Changes are visible now as many of the big brands like l'oreal are working to change their product design to reduce plastic pollution. Hence, we can say that something is better than nothing.

f) Sorting my recycling is a hassle and isn’t really important.

On the contrary, sorting your recycling items and waste properly is fast, easy, and super-important! Not accepted—and potentially dangerous—materials (e.g., batteries, propane canisters, scrap metal, garbage) that should be collected through other programs, need to be disposed of properly. Items like batteries pose a huge fire risk to facilities and the people who work there. To keep everything moving safely and smoothly, take a few seconds to sort your recycling properly, please.

g) It doesn’t matter if I recycle. Everything just winds up in the landfill, anyway.

This pesky rumor has been around since the dawn of recycling, even though it’s patently false. The truth is: Every effort you and your family make to recycle properly has a positive impact! And the more residents understand about the recycling process, the less waste is sent to landfills, the fewer virgin materials are used in manufacturing, and the more your community can recycle.