Extended  Producer Responsibility (EPR) and plastic packaging in India

Plastic pollution has turned out to be a global environmental concern, impacting ecosystems, marine life, and human health. As one of the world's largest consumers and producers of plastic, India has a significant role in addressing this issue. One of the key strategies employed in India to combat plastic pollution is the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging . EPR is a policy approach that transfers the responsibility for managing and recycling products, including plastic packaging, on the manufacturers and producers. This blog explores the concept of EPR in the context of plastic packaging in India, its evolution, current status, challenges, and potential solutions.

Evolution of EPR in India

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging in India is a relatively recent development born from the increasing environmental concerns surrounding plastic waste. The journey of EPR in India can be traced back to the Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWM), 2011, which initially recognised the principle of EPR. These rules mandated plastic manufacturers and brand owners to set up collection systems and promote recycling. However, it was only in 2016, with the release of the PWM (Amendment) Rules, that EPR was explicitly introduced for plastic packaging.

The 2016 amendment signified a significant shift in India's approach to managing plastic waste. It outlined the responsibilities of producers, importers, and brand owners to establish a collect-back system for post-consumer plastic waste. Manufacturers were required to work with local bodies and stakeholders to establish plastic waste collection centres. Additionally, they were encouraged to take measures to raise awareness about the environmental consequences of plastic waste and promote environmentally friendly alternatives.

In 2018, the PWM Rules were further amended to strengthen the EPR framework. Producers were mandated to ensure that a minimum of 60% of plastic waste generated is recycled, which was later increased to 75% in 2019. These rules also required producers to provide financial support to local bodies for creating infrastructure and systems for collecting and recycling plastic waste (blog - PW Recycling).

The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2022 and its second amendment banned single plastic use. The rules enforced the shift toward compostable and biodegradable plastic.

Current Status of EPR in India

India's implementation of EPR for plastic packaging is out now and being upgraded often. Several measures had been taken, but there were challenges and obstacles in achieving the desired outcomes.

Compliance Challenges

The effective implementation of EPR in India has faced challenges related to compliance. Many plastic producers and brand owners have been slow to meet their EPR obligations, often citing logistical and financial constraints.

Infrastructure Gaps

India's plastic waste management infrastructure has been inadequate to support the goals of EPR. The collection, segregation, and recycling systems were insufficient, particularly in rural areas, where plastic waste often ends up in landfills or is littered.

Consumer Awareness

Raising consumer awareness about the environmental impact of plastic and the importance of recycling has been a persistent challenge. Without active participation and awareness among consumers, the success of EPR remains limited.

Plastic Types and Complexity

The wide variety of plastic types and complex packaging designs have complicated the recycling process. Sorting and recycling different types of plastic can be costly and technically challenging.

Policy Implementation

Policy implementation has varied across different states and regions of India. While some states have made notable progress, others lag behind due to varying levels of commitment and resources.

Informal Sector Involvement

India's informal waste recycling sector is vital in managing plastic waste. However, it operates in challenging conditions, often with minimal safety and environmental standards. Integrating the informal sector into the EPR framework has proven to be a complex task.

Potential Solutions and the Way Forward

Addressing the challenges associated with EPR for plastic packaging in India requires a multi-faceted approach that involves government, industry, civil society, and consumers.

Strengthening Regulatory Framework

India needs to strengthen the regulatory framework for EPR further, ensuring that penalties and incentives are appropriately balanced to encourage compliance. Clear guidelines for EPR implementation should be provided to manufacturers and brand owners.

Infrastructure Development

Investment in plastic waste recycling and collection infrastructure is crucial. Public-private partnerships can help build and maintain collection and recycling centres, especially in remote and underserved areas.

Innovation and Research

Encouraging research and innovation in plastic recycling technologies is vital. The development of cost-effective and sustainable recycling methods can help in managing the diversity of plastic packaging materials.

Consumer Education

Mass campaigns and educational programs must be launched to create awareness among consumers regarding the environmental consequences of plastic waste and the significance of recycling. Incentives for consumers who recycle can also be considered.

Informal Sector Integration

Engaging with the informal sector, which is already involved in waste recycling, can enhance the collection and recycling of plastic waste. This requires providing better working conditions, safety measures, and training for those involved.

Extended Scope

Expanding the scope of EPR to include other forms of single-use plastics, such as disposable cutlery and straws, is essential to address plastic pollution comprehensively.

Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs)

Establishing PROs (Service Page - PRO) can streamline the EPR process. PROs can act as intermediaries between producers and recyclers, facilitating plastic waste management and ensuring compliance.

International Collaboration

Learning from global best practices and collaborating with other nations in addressing plastic pollution can provide valuable insights and solutions.


Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging in India represents a critical step towards mitigating plastic pollution. While there have been significant developments in the regulatory framework and awareness, challenges require collective efforts to overcome. India must continue its commitment to EPR, ensuring that producers, brand owners, and consumers actively participate in reducing plastic waste. This involves investing in infrastructure, promoting innovation, and addressing compliance issues. Ultimately, the success of EPR in India will not only contribute to environmental conservation but also serve as a model for sustainable plastic management worldwide.

Diksha Khiatani

A writer by day and a reader at night. Emerging from an Engineering background, Diksha has completed her M. Tech in Computer Science field. Being passionate about writing, she started her career as a Writer. She finds it interesting and always grabs time to research and write about Environmental laws and compliances. With extensive knowledge on content writing, she has been delivering high-quality write-ups. Besides, you will often find her with a novel and a cuppa!

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