While the amended EIA draft has been grabbing headlines, another critical environment related guideline had been out for feedback in July 2020 which was the much-awaited framework of EPR for plastic waste management. Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR concept was adopted by the government in the Plastic Waste Management Rules in 2016, the draft guidelines are finally out after 4 years.
Thomas Lindhqvist who had coined the term Extended Producer Responsibility in the year 1990 defined it as: EPR is an environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact from 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 of the product. The Extended Producer Responsibility is implemented through administrative, economic and informative instruments. The composition of these instruments determines the precise form of the Extended Producer Responsibility.
In these gloomy and forlorn times of COVID-19 pandemic where we have only been hearing of loss of lives and livelihood, most of us would have also come across some positive statistics, pictures and videos showing how the earth has begun to heal. With all economic activity coming to a standstill and humans locked inside their homes, the other beings of this earth could come out and what belongs to them as well. My personal favourite, unfortunately a fake news clip (it was real but pre-covid), was that of a deer frolicking on a sea shore with complete abandon, like a small child!
This lockdown has shown us what a massive impact we can make by slowing down and that it is very much possible to slow down. The lockdown unfortunately was like applying breaks to a car that was speeding at 200 Kms/hr hence the human suffering has been tremendous but we have survived this. Going forward, as we pick pace, can we accelerate slowly and also set a reasonable speed limit? While the primary focus of the world right now is on fighting the virus and coming out of the crippling economic crisis and the resultant human suffering; it is critical that we deliberate the lessons can learn from this pandemic in addressing an even bigger challenge, Climate Change.
Looking at the future, using my 3R* glasses, while I see a lot of challenges, I sense more hope than despair with regard to sustainable waste management.