India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has promulgated two notifications regarding the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, on November 20, 2023. In both of the notifications, CPCB requested the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs or PCCs) to strengthen their monitoring in response to the apparent rampant non-compliance with the rules. The requests include crackdown on unauthorized operations of plastic waste processors, registration of producers, importers, and brand owners, and a strict ban on disposable plastics.
Unauthorized operations of plastic waste processors
CPCB randomly selected and conducted on-site audits of five domestic plastic waste disposal companies during August and September 2023, which revealed that some of them were operating unauthorized (see excerpt below).
- Plastic waste processing capacity as registered was much higher than the actual capacity.
- Plant and machinery were installed but not yet commissioned.
- Electricity and water connection were not provided to the plant machinery and could not perform trial run.
- Photographs of the plant uploaded with the application were different from actual observations.
- No plastic waste was found in the premises.
- No worker was available in the unit or number of workers were found much less than reported in application.
- The Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate have been granted in quick succession. It is not clear as to how the unit of such large scale was established in such a short time.
Based on the audit findings, these units were found to have been fraudulently issuing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates. In response, CPCB has requested all states to strengthen overall monitoring such as double-checking the information of processors including registered processors, and the issuance of EPR certificates. CPCB also demands that any violations by processors be immediately followed by suspension of operations and the imposition of Environmental Compensation.
Strict ban on single-use plastics
India has banned certain single-use plastics, such as cutlery, effective July 1, 2022. However, a complete ban was not achieved in practice, and numerous on-site inspections were conducted at the premises of producers in various states. Below are examples of data from states and regions where crackdowns were particularly severe. CPCB intends to further increase on-site inspections as part of its efforts to enforce the ban.
|No. of Inspections (CPCB/ ULB)
|Quantity of single-use plastics seized (kg)
|Fine imposed (Rs)
*Time period of the above data is not mentioned.
Unregistered on the EPR Portal
The 2022 amendment requires entities of producer, importer, brand owner, and plastic waste processor to register on the EPR Portal. While the portal was launched in April 2022, there are still many that have not yet registered as of November 2023, a year and a half later. One factor cited is the time it takes for applications to be reviewed and approved by the respective state SPCBs or PCCs. Therefore, CPCB has instructed to immediately begin reviewing applications that have been overdue since last fiscal year, and to complete the review of applications for the current fiscal year within 15 days.
The two notifications are available to download from below:
- Directions under Section 5 of the EPA, 1986 regarding compliance of various provisions under Schedule-II of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, i.e. Guidelines on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
- Direction under Section 5 of the EPA, 1986 regarding registration of Producer, Importer & Brand-owners & Plastic Waste Processors on Centralized EPR Portal for Plastic Packaging and Implementation of ban on Single Use Plastic -Reg.
Under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, producers, importers and brand owners have to purchase EPR Certificates from processors in order to fulfill their EPR obligations, such as recycling of plastic waste. As mentioned above, due to the abundance of fraudulent operations by plastic waste processors, companies should be careful to ensure that the EPR Certificates purchased are from trusted sources.