‘Producers pay’ hurts plastic manufacturers

Business Environment

Plastic manufacturers have to pay an environmental penalty if they sell to brands that are not registered with pollution control boards. But, few brands are registered with the boards.

Plastic producers are forced to break plastic waste management rules (amendment), 2022 due to a paucity of brands registered with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). They have to work with non-registered brand owners and pay a fine due to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) rules. These rules were introduced by the Ministry Of Environment, Forest And Climate Change, to keep track of the plastic consumption in the country.

There are only 27 registered brand owners for 137 registered producers of plastic making it hard for them to continue their business, said KSPCB.

“The main idea behind EPR is to ensure that plastic waste is not visible in landfills,” said Vijaya Kumar, President of Karnataka State Polymer Association. The CPCB has declared that Producers, Importers and Brand Owners( PIBO) are responsible for recycling 40 percent of the total plastic they use or produce.

“My turnover depends on the brand owners,” said Mr. Vijaya Kumar, who supplies plastic to various brands for packaging. When brand owners do not register with the CPCB, producers then work with un-registered companies or brands, which is against the CPCB guidelines. Data by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) stated that there are only 27 registered brand owners in Karnataka. The producers are allowed to work with registered brand owners in other states; however, it is difficult as they have to follow the rules of other states as well.

Brand owners take advantage of the fact that the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has exempted small businesses from registering with the CPCB.

Interview with Mr. Vijaya Kumar on the burden of producers to pay for their produce.

The dashboard of EPR in the CPCB website showed that there are 1042 registered producers in India while there are 840 registered brand owners till October 2022.

Brand owners find it hard to recycle their used plastic as there are few registered recyclers. “Lack of infrastructure is making it hard for our brand to find Plastic Waste Management Consultants (PWMC),” said Nirmal Narayanan, Cycle Agarbatti. Brand owners, on the other had have to work with consultants who will audit their use of plastic and check how much of it has been recycled.

Union Minister tweeting about the implementation of EPR.

Rudresh Murthy, environment officer, KSPCB said that even though the burden is on producers, the guidelines by the centre have to be followed. Producers are warned against working with non-registered brand owners.

“It is a mental torture for the producers alone,” said Vijaya Kumar. If the compensation is not paid by the producers, it is carried forward in the next financial year. The fine starts from Rs. 5000 for the first violation to Rs. 20,000 for third or more violations.

The producers claim that following the required guidelines to register under EPR is extensive and difficult. Since it is an online portal, it is difficult to complete the registrations. Mr. Murthy said, “We have held training programs and awareness sessions for the producers about registrations.”

“Just like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the PIBO
 should take responsibility for their production and packaging,” said NS Ramakanth, Solid waste management expert. EPR is needed in India which is suffering from the issue of mismanagement of plastic waste. The newly added guidelines will help in solving the issue of landfills in Bengaluru, as there will be certification of the plastic used and produced by them in the audit that is submitted by them.

The Plastic Industry Status Report 2021 says that India is the third largest consumer of plastic in the world