Extended Producer Responsibility- EPR at Mumbai
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) at Mumbai is done by the Environmental Organisation Earth5R.
Earth5R is India’s biggest environmental organisation with its community-based sustainability projects spread in 35 cities across India.
Earth5R’s EPR program is integrated into the local sustainability program called ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation). The aim of Earth5R’s Extended Producer Responsibility program is to ensure the recovery and recycling of packaging waste in the most economically efficient and ecologically sound manner.
Under Earth5R’s EPR program the recovery, sorting and recycling of packaging are done in a decentralised manner in order to reduce the carbon footprint and reduce storage and transportation costs. The cost saved can be passed on to the beneficiaries at the bottom of the pyramid.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products.
Earth5R uses an army of waste pickers working at the grassroots level to leverage the Extended Producer Responsibility program. That way Earth5R’s solid waste management value chain is utilised to make a positive social and environmental impact. Earth5R has several innovative waste recovery and recycling schemes for brands looking for Extended Producer Responsibility program.
Earth5R team with citizens at Mumbai collecting plastic bottle caps which they recycle to make benches.
Extended producer responsibility legislation is a driving force behind the adoption of remanufacturing initiatives as it “focuses on the end-of-use treatment of consumer products and has the primary aim to increase the amount and degree of product recovery and to minimize the environmental impact of waste materials”
The concept was first formally introduced in Sweden by Thomas Lindhqvist in a 1990 report to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment. In subsequent reports prepared for the Ministry, the following definition emerged: “EPR is an environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact of a product, by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal.
EPR uses financial incentives to encourage manufacturers to design environmentally friendly products by holding producers responsible for the costs of managing their products at end of life.
EPR may take the form of a reuse, buy-back, or recycling program. The producer may also choose to delegate this responsibility to a third party, a so-called producer responsibility organization (PRO) for example Mumbai based environmental organisation Earth5R, which is paid by the producer for used-product management.
EPR has the potential to deliver a great deal to Mumbai — including lower costs for local government and BMC, significantly increased recycling rates and supply of recycled materials, more recyclability for a wider array of products, funding for plastic pollution prevention and mitigation, and more opportunities for system optimization.
In order to make it more effective, Maharashtra government and Mumbai Municipality will need to band together with local environmental organizations, NGOs, Citizens and supportive businesses to create a strong movement that can move EPR forward.
Extended Producer Responsibility in other countries
26 of the 28 EU Member States currently have EPR schemes in place for packaging waste.
In Germany, since the adoption of EPR, “between 1991 and 1998, the per capita consumption of packaging was reduced from 94.7 kg to 82 kg, resulting in a reduction of 13.4%.
Furthermore, due to Germany’s influence in EPR, the European Commission developed one waste directive for all of the member states (Hanisch 2000). One major goal was to have all member states recycle 25% of all packaging material and have accomplished the goal.
In the United States, EPR is gaining popularity with 40 such laws enacted since 2008. However, these laws are only at the state level as there are no federal laws for EPR.
Strengths & Opportunities
Extended Producer Responsibility has several strengths. It can help in creating more efficient separate collection programs, reduce disposal, and increase recycling.Extended Producer Responsibility reduces the burden on public budgets for municipal waste management and increase the cost efficiency of collection and recycling processes.
EPR also contributes to the generation of separated, high quality secondary raw materials, supporting the development of markets and contributing to resource security. Fee modulation within EPR has the potential to encourage producers towards eco-design.
It’s important to have string data collection system to assess impacts of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes. If EPR programs are not adequately controlled or monitored they can affect effective functioning and producer compliance. Weight-based fee structures can lead to a focus on light-weighting, which risks rewarding lighter but less recyclable materials.
EPR measures should incentivise packaging producers towards eco-design.
The growing costs to manage plastics in the environment are becoming more widely understood. The cost of addressing litter and plastic pollution has been increasing. The price tag and logistical challenges of dealing with packaging materials – through collection, recycling, disposal, river, lake and beach cleanup, street cleaning, and outreach and education – are spiralling upward.
A great Extended Producer Responsibility policy could deepen its scope, and strengthen the financial incentives for ecodesign. Economic incentives should be developed to favour circular products and business models, e.g. through harmonised criteria and the further application of modulated fees to support the waste hierarchy and incentivise more environmentally sustainable products.
It should be noted that EPR does not function in a vacuum, and coherence should be ensured between the objectives and implementation of EPR and other instruments, including regulatory targets, bans, pay-as-you-throw schemes, waste taxes, product and material taxes, product standards, labelling, voluntary agreements, procurement policies, and information and awareness campaigns. It also requires the development of a shared understanding of the system benefits for key stakeholders. A landfill ban on recyclable materials is crucial to the success of the EPR scheme.
Responsible choices by consumers are also crucial. It should also be noted that EPR functions largely around the recycling element of the waste hierarchy. As such, it is preferable to final disposal and incineration (with or without energy recovery) of waste. However, it should be noted that prevention and reuse are preferred options according to the waste hierarchy. For this reason, EPR schemes should be designed in such a way that they do not hamper, but rather encourage, actions related to prevention or reuse.
EPR will create new entrepreneurial opportunities as well as potentially helping to expand competition for hauling, sorting and processing services. In order to meet statutorily mandated recycling targets, producers will need to recycle high quantities of quality materials, necessitating increased investment and demands for recycling infrastructure.
EPR initiatives not only help boost recycling and prevent litter – they also provide services and benefits to businesses. EPR can rapidly create the funding, standards and economies of scale necessary to collect, recycle and market previously “unrecyclable” materials.
How producers can gain
Some of the largest beneficiaries of EPR policies would be producers themselves. These businesses stand to gain access to significantly greater amounts of recycled materials to meet the recycled content standards demanded by their customers. In addition, EPR would help drive up recycling rates for their own products – a primary sustainability goal for many companies.
Going forward companies will have to accept EPR as an appropriate cost of doing business and of being responsible corporate citizens. They should look at EPR as an opportunity to use their leverage to optimize existing systems, drive performance, build in circular-economic principles and reduce costs.
Therefore Extended Producer Responsibility is a vital part of the picture to ensure that plastic and its value stay in the economy and out of the environment, and to support the transition to a sustainable circular economy.
To know how your company can benefit with Earth5R’s EPR services please call us on +91 99200 45587 or drop us an email.