Environment Day and Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR)
5th June is celebrated as World environment day each year by the United Nations. Since 1974, it has been a platform for raising awareness on environmental issue such as marine pollution, human overpopulation, global warming, sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. It has become United Nations' principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment over 143 countries annually.
Over the period of time, environmental issues have started getting discussed seriously in various forum apart from 5th June. The negative impact on the environment and deuterating health of the earth has been statistically presented, discussed among nations, schools. Various recognized institutions started publishing the impact on nature over the period and future together if we continue to behave in same way as today. These articles also started showing reasons of impact like industrialization, pollution and raised fingers on industries which makes pollution.
Each year, the program has been organized with a theme and forum for businesses, non-government organizations, communities, governments and celebrities to advocate environmental causes which startled industries specifically responsible for pollutions. Later on, considering the seriousness government started framing guidelines for industries and started checking the impact on the environment by those companies. Many governments concluded that placing the responsibility for the post-consumer phase of certain goods on producers could be an option. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer wastes.
Off late, India also started working toward sustainability of environment and looked for policies framework for companies including EPR. The rule, notified by the union ministry in March 2016, had introduced several new features such as the extended producers’ responsibility (EPR) to pin responsibilities of producers and generators in the plastic waste management system and a collect-back system to deal with such waste. However, till date its provisions have largely remained on paper.
The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to finalize the “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) regime for plastic waste within three months saying that steps taken by it were “too slow”. Referring to its 2013-14 annual report, the CPCB had said there were more than 900+unregistered plastic manufacturing units running in the various states and UTs. The CPCB had said it had issued directions under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 but they paid no heed till date.
It’s a small start, and not enough to make a dent on the problem of India’s annual plastic waste of 7-9 million tones (CPCB estimates). Only about 45 companies have submitted their EPR plans to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), whereas the total number of such companies runs into several thousands.
Long way to go
“Things are looking positive,” said Richa Agarwal, a research associate in the Waste Management Team of Delhi’s Centre for Science and Environment. “The work on EPR has started, but it still has a long way to go.”
Reason, most companies are still not showing any seriousness toward their EPR. They are still looking for some gap in the provision to shrug off the responsibilities. It has also worth to point out that same multinational companies having different approach in different countries. The western countries with strict guidelines on using recycled material in their product line, collection and disposal including implementation of DRS system through RVM follows rule of the state however in India it is just a press conference -what they will do by 2050 and so and some tweets. Actually, on ground no solid execution seen except trading of certificates. We call it ribbon cutting exercise.
If environment has to be taken seriously then each day should be celebrated by executing EPR needs. EPR can no more just an additional responsibility of CEO or HR manager. It has to be full-fledged result-oriented activity, should start from their own campus which leads to dump yard. We must work on process & systems where each waste should be treated transparently and brought back for reuse through circular economy.