ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Waste Management and Extended Producer Responsibility

Lessons from the Past

The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, and Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 are reviewed critically with respect to the principle of “extended producer responsibility,” comparing them with the first-ever EPR-based rules in India, the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001. The failure of the recent rules to recognise the role of the huge informal sector in collection and recycling of solid waste, one of the major reasons for the failure of BMHR, undermines their effectiveness. To overcome this drawback, an EPR mechanism integrating the informal collection system with formal recycling along with elimination of informal recycling units has been suggested.

The authors acknowledge the anonymous reviewer of this paper and are thankful for their extremely valuable and constructive suggestions that contributed in improving the paper.

In a developing country like India, changes in the consumption pattern over the years with subsequent generation of huge quantities of different types of solid waste has been one of the major environmental concerns. Efforts to address this issue have been made in the past through formulation of rules for proper management and disposal of waste. Till date, several rules have been enforced to deal with the issue of different types of waste, which includes hazardous waste, municipal solid waste, used lead acid batteries (ULABs), biomedical waste, plastic waste, and electronic-waste (e-waste). The latest in the series of such rules are the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWMR), 2016, E-Waste (Management) Rules (EWMR), 2016, and the Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWMR), 2016. These rules are based on the principle of making stakeholders accountable for the management of waste. Most importantly, the rules stipulate that it is the responsibility of the producers to ensure that the waste generated from their products is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

During the last two decades, the waste management policies in developed countries, aimed at reducing the environmental impact of products, have mainly focused on recycling and reuse (Ferrão et al 2008). The principle of “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) has been at the core of most of such policies. Based on the polluter-pays-principle, it increases the accountability of producers by making them responsible for the environmental impacts associated with their products throughout their life cycle (Driedger 2002; Kibert 2004; Forslind 2005; McKerlie et al 2006; Ferrão et al 2008; Nnorom and Osibanjo 2008;
Nahman 2010). In this approach, the financial or physical responsibility of recycling the end-of-life products shifts to the upstream producers (OECD 2001; Walls 2006; Widmer et al 2005).

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Updated On : 3rd May, 2019
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