The City will have several Mount Everests soon — no, not natural mountains, but mounds of non-biodegradable waste, thanks to the callousness of the GHMC and others.
The enormous amount of plastic choking our City dumpyards was long foreseen as a problem. In our situation, profit justifies everything else. You make a product, package it in plastics and just peddle it to the shops and forget it. The producer reaps the benefits, shares a part of it to grease the palm of babudom, and to hell with the future of our City and our children.
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had introduced the Plastic Waste Management and Handling Rule in 2010, that lays down guidelines for many aspects of waste management policies. But has it been put into practice yet? And more importantly, are businesses producing plastic, aware of the responsibility they hold over the waste? Postnoon finds out.
The Law: Extended Producers Responsibility
The Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules was put into effect on February 4, 2011, by the MoEF. What gained prominence was the clause about Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR). Activist and advocate Suhail Ali from Bangalore, explains, “EPR was a policy instrument that made manufacturers responsible for the social and environmental impact of their products. The clause made provisions for waste to be re-routed back to the manufacturer at the end of its life cycle for effective recycling. However, there were several loopholes in the clause that made it easy for manufacturers to evade their duty.”
Organisation of Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) defines EPR as an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage. EPR policy is characterised by: (1) the shifting of responsibility upstream toward the producer and away from municipalities; and (2) the provision of incentives to producers to take into account environmental considerations when designing their products. EPR seeks to integrate signals related to the environmental characteristics of products throughout the production process chain.
Suhail’s extensive work with the Jawaharnagar dumpyard as a case study, showed results that indicated immense business potential for power generation from waste, which was kept at bay by the old culprits — Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) and the GHMC.
According to Suhail, the individual state pollution control boards were entrusted with making bylaws to necessitate and implement EPR. “Municipal authorities “may ask” the manufacturers for finances to provide the required collection plastic waste centres and leaving the collection of funds at the discretion of the municipal corporation was what the rules specified. This leniency allowed the plastic manufacturers to evade their responsibility, which is why there are no recycling centres set up by major manufacturers within the City limits,” Suhail said.
The APPCB had convened a meeting on June 2011 to implement EPR with the Plastic Manufacturers’ Association and had even issued closure notices to some units in Katedan that remained defiant of the order. Nothing ever materialised out of the meeting or the notices.
The GHMC’s fantasies of providing captive power from waste generated at Jawaharnagar and the APPCB’s eyewash plans of making EPR compulsory never materialised. “Crores were sanctioned for the solid waste management project, materialised on tenders and vanished, leaving a lot of plastic behind. This kept everyone happy — the producers and the government agencies,” he said.
What manufacturers say
Given the strain on profits EPR would place, manufacturers are wary about adhering to the rule. Members of the AP Plastic Manufacturers’ Association (APPMA) agree that it is a noble thing to do, but cite business losses as a reason for not implementing the rule.
Srikanth Reddy, a former member of APPMA said, “Several members were of the opinion that recycling centres should to be established collectively in order to minimise the cost. However, other issues like cost benefit analysis, effectivity of rule implementation, was what made the rule impotent. Had they made it mandatory for recycling centres to be set up along with waste collection units, and imposed strict fines on those who evaded the law, the law would have worked smoothly.”
Other members opine that GHMC and APPCB should first take initiative in fund collection from all manufacturers, not just arbitrarily at the discretion of the municipal authorities, and set up one recycling centre as a pilot project at Jawaharnagar. “When they themselves are not enforcing the rules, how are we to participate?” Arun Kumar Mrudyala, a plastic packaging unit owner from Balanagar, said.
Daily plastic output
Hyderabad’s daily plastic generation has been estimated to be 127.072 MT (metric tonnes). This is 40 per cent of the total estimated 3,800 MT of waste generated daily. GHMC experts estimate that the share of plastic is going to shoot up by another four per cent by mid 2014.
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