What are EPR & Plastic Credit Schemes | How does it work?

What are plastic credits/EPR credits?

The plastic credit model aims to balance the impact of plastic pollution by allowing individual companies and industries to extract plastic from the environment. This removed plastic is sold in the market.

Plastic credit does not require a manufacturer to recycle its plastic waste; instead, they can purchase from the accredited processors. These processors are the recyclers, plant operators, cement co-processors, and users who find plastic on roads.

What is the role of EPR In PWM?

Extended Producers Responsibility plays a crucial role in saving the environment from the harmful impact of plastic. There are various instruments used in EPR:

  1. Product take-back: The producer is responsible for taking back the products from consumers once it becomes waste. It also involves mandatory and voluntary recycling of plastic.
  2. Economic and MArket based instrument:

    This instrument of EPR includes:
  • Deposit refund-  In this consumer pays a deposit while purchasing and it gets refunded when they return the waste item.
  • Advanced refund- the consumer fee is used to finance the end life of the product based on estimated collection and prices.

How plastic credits work for Plastic Waste Management?

Plastic Waste Management must integrate with municipal waste management systems for better outcomes. The resources and management of the private sectors allow developing the MSW management of plastics. MSW management is the collection, transfer of waste, recycling, and treatment.

The credits mechanism  in plastic management system :

  • This mechanism allows producers and companies to take credit for plastic waste management. However, it is possible when they support municipal waste management.
  • Under this mechanism, the number of plastic collected and recycled every day counts as an offsetting for the EPR target of the business.

What is the responsibility of Producers and Brand owners under this mechanism?

  1. The producers and the brand owners have to work with the Urban local bodies to carry out the MSW management system. They work together to implement the ‘Segregation Model,’ which separates the plastic from other materials. The segregation process involves:
  • Mechanical recycling: In this method, the plastic is chopped and washed. After washing, the plastic is grounded into powders and melted.
  • Chemical recycling: this method involves breaking down the plastic into monomers. The plastic is sorted according to their resin type.
  1. The producers will contribute to the development of the infrastructure. They will also provide management support for propagation in  Plastic Waste Management.
  2. The owners are responsible for engaging and developing connections with the waste collectors, segregation, and recycling agencies.
  3. They are responsible for developing and implementing Extended Producers Responsibility. The process of implementation includes:
  • Research studies for understanding the benefits and opportunities of EPR
  • Support the necessary waste management infrastructure
  • Understand the objectives and principles of EPR
  • Cooperating with stakeholders and create Producer Responsibility Organisation PRO
  1. Building an excellent team to look after the implementation of the Segregation Model. This team will work to keep an appropriate account of the plastic waste

It is essential to strengthen plastic waste management with a proper Segregation Model. Increase awareness about waste management rules, 2016, and use clean EPR schemes.

How do EPR credits work?

The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) developed the national framework for Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR). This framework guides the companies to comply with the legislation.

The law gives direction to the brands and manufacturers to manage EPR legislation. It makes it mandatory for companies to collect back and recycle their waste. The draft consists of three different models, including the credit-based model, to implement EPR.

Three Models For Implementing EPR 

Fee-Based Model:

  • According to the draft, the ULB’s (Urban Local Bodies) lack sufficient funds and expertise to collect the waste (like segregated plastic) and supply it to the recyclers and dismantlers.
  • So there is a need to build scope for the urban local bodies with infrastructure development and expertise so that the waste management can follow the EPR mechanism.
  • The ragpickers, assemblers, and recyclers contribute to the cleanliness of the city and are helpful for the EPR mechanism. So, this fraction should get support from organizations to get better management of the waste.
  • It is crucial to understand how funding mechanisms work in these unorganized sectors. The larger aggregators take advance payments to pre-buy the quantities of waste from the primary collectors and dismantlers.

PRO Based Model:

  • Producers Responsibility Organisations is a third party hired by the producers and manufacturers that facilitate the responsibility of waste management on behalf of them. PRO takes financial help from these companies to bring back waste from the open market, recycling processing, and file compliance. 
  • The producers can choose the PRO-based on their capabilities and experience. It also gives a chance to small startups to provide solutions for waste management to small owners.

Credit-Based Model:

  • In a credit-based model, the producer does not require to recycle their packaging. They have to ensure an equal amount of packages are recycled to meet their obligations.
  • Producers must acquire evidence of recycling and processing from accredited agencies. Recyclers, Plant operators, cement co-processors, users utilizing plastic for road constructions will provide this evidence.
  • The producers and processors (recyclers, dismantlers) exchange the plastic credits or EPR credits for financial transactions at a price negotiated between them.
  • The processors can work directly with the brands and generate additional money from their operations without any middlemen. 

How can credits help companies comply with legislation?

The EPR framework affects the large medium, and small manufacturers in different ways:

  • For small manufacturers, they pay EPR to local bodies who, in return, recycle the amount of waste produced by the producers.
  • For medium manufacturers, they hire the PRO’s to carry out waste management for them and negotiate the finances between them.
  • For large manufacturers, they try to acquire credits by sending plastic and waste materials to the recycling units. It also helps the company comply with the legislation without handling the waste management themselves.

EPR credits can help the producers and manufacturers to blend environmental, economic, and social factors. The company doesn’t need to take the burden of waste management; instead, they can comply with the guidelines by showing credits.