Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Government notifies new plastic waste management rules

Under the new extended producer responsibility concept, producers are responsible for collecting waste generated from their products

New Delhi: The government on Friday notified new plastic waste management rules, bringing the country’s gram panchayats into the picture and introducing the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR). It also banned plastic carry bags thinner than 50 microns.

The Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules 2016, issued by the Union environment ministry, replace the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011. Under the new EPR concept, producers are responsible for collecting waste generated from their products.

“The new plastic waste management rules are part of environment ministry’s efforts to revamp all waste management rules of the country. The rules, which were admissible up to municipal areas, have now been extended to all villages. The new rules will help in achieving our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Swachh Bharat," said Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar at a conference.

The minister said the rules were formulated after extensive consultations with all stakeholders.

Javadekar added that everyday, 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated but of that, only 9,000 tonnes is collected and processed. The ministry is hoping to increase the overall collection of waste from across the country with the new rules.

Stressing on the importance of new rules, Javadekar said, “Every year, we have around two million tonnes of plastic waste that is not collected."

Under the new rules, responsibility of waste generators has also been introduced for the first time.

“Individual and bulk (waste) generators like offices, commercial establishments, industries are to segregate the plastic waste at source, handover segregate waste and pay user fee as per bye-laws of the local bodies," the rules said.

The new rules also focus on phasing out of non-recyclable multilayered plastic and increasing reuse of plastic waste especially in applications like road construction and waste to energy.

To address the problem of plastic products generally found littered after public events, the new rules for the first time make persons organizing public events like marriages, religious gatherings, public meetings and others responsible for managing the waste generated.

The ministry also increased the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 microns to 50 microns.

The new rules also specify that producers have to keep record of vendors to whom they supply raw material for manufacturing carry bags, plastic sheets and multilayered packaging to curb manufacturing of the products in the unorganized sector.

The rules also have the provision to fine retailers and street vendors who provide their products in plastic packaging which do not conform to the new rules.

An expert welcomed the move, but expressed doubts over its implementation.

“Implementation of rules is a big issue. There has to be some effort made for making recycling of plastic viable. We need to pay attention to the cause of recycling industry. Right now, it is just a small scale activity," said Ravi Agarwal, director at Toxics Link, a Delhi-based NGO working on environmental issues.

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