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Overview of Plastic Waste Management

Every day, India generates enormous amounts of plastic waste. These plastic wastes need to be dealt with properly; otherwise, they can significantly negatively impact the environment. The indiscriminate disposal of plastic wastes has caused a huge environmental crisis. Therefore, with a view to averting such a crisis, the government introduced the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules in 2011. In line with this, the government also introduced the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016.

Plastic Waste Management is an initiative to keep a check on plastic waste and control the amount of plastic waste in the environment by adopting a Circular Economy by reusing plastic waste by recycling or any other environmentally sound disposal solution. It deals with the global issue of managing the waste by the urban local bodies, local bodies, the gram panchayat, waste generators, and by brand owners, importers and brand owners. 

The Government of India, in exercise of the power given under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 through the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has published the Plastic Waste Management Rules conferring their respective jurisdiction by the urban local bodies are as follows: 

  • Plastic waste that can be recycled shall be channelised to register the plastic waste recycler and to recycle plastic conforms to the IS titled Guidelines for Recycling of Plastics.
  • Local bodies will encourage the use of plastic waste that cannot be further recycled for the construction of roads, energy recovery or waste to oil, etc.
  • Thermoset plastic waste shall be processed and disposed of as per the guidelines issued by the CPB.
  • The inert from the recycling or processing facilities of the plastic waste shall be disposed of as per the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2000.

Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016

The Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 was notified in March 2016. These rules apply to the manufacture, distribution, sale of brand owners, carrying bags, plastic sheets or multi-layered packaging, etc.

For the first time, the responsibility of waste generators was prescribed. Individual and bulk generators such as offices, commercial establishments and industries are required to segregate plastic waste at the source, hand over the segregated waste and pay the user fee according to the bye-laws of local bodies.

The concept of EPR was introduced under the plastic waste management rules 2016, where the onus was put on the manufacturers for the treatment, reuse, recycling or disposal of products after the consumer has used and disposed of them.

Overview of EPR

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy method wherein the producers take responsibility for the disposal of waste products that they produce once the products are deemed to be not useful for consumers. It is based on the international environmental law principle- "Polluter pays". This implies that the one who pollutes the environment should pay to keep the environment clean and intact. EPR transfers the economic liability of the value of the disposal from the government to the manufacturer of the trade. 

Plastic EPR

As per the Plastic Waste Management Rules, producers, importers and brand owners who supply their products in the market have the Extended Producers Responsibility to manage plastic waste generated by the plastic packaging of their products. They should collaborate with the local government to form a strategy to manage plastic waste generated by their products.

EPR Post Compliance- Plastic Waste

The post compliance of EPR for plastic waste management is divided into two categories-

  • Half-Yearly Report Submission- The producers, importers and brand owners submit their half-yearly progress on plastic waste management for every state or union territory in its EPR Action plan to the concerned State Pollution Control Board/Pollution Control Committee. Further, the producers, importers and brand owners provide documentary proof from the respective processing facilities to demonstrate that the quantity and the type of plastic waste according to the EPR target have been treated. They also provide the supporting papers as evidence of state-by-state collection of waste as per the EPR target. The half-yearly progress report has to be submitted within 15 days after the end of the relevant half-year period.
  • Sales Details Submission- The applicant also submits the sales details to the State Pollution Control Board/Pollution Control Committee.

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Responsibility of Producers

Some of the essential responsibilities of the producers are specified below:

  • They need to draft an action plan for EPR and submit it to the CPCB or SPCB. The plan will include the type and quantities of plastic waste. Further, it should also include pre-consumer and post-consumer generated waste segregated zone wise, the manner of collection and processing of plastic waste and the details of the strategic partners and supporting documents;
  • When CPCB approves the EPR plan, the producers will be responsible for the collection, recycling, processing/co-processing, re-processing, logistics, disposal of the plastic waste in the manner and quantity specified in the EPR plan approved by the CPCB. They can perform such activities through their own channels or partner with municipalities, local bodies, or any other method that can ensure the waste's traceability.
  • They are required to maintain records of every activity for quarterly filings and periodic filings.

Responsibilities of the Local Bodies

The followings are the responsibilities of the local bodies are:

  • Every local body is responsible for developing and setting up the infrastructure for the segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste either on its own, through any agency or producers.
  • The local body is responsible for setting up, operating and coordinating the waste management system and for performing the associated functions, such as:
  1. To ensure segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of the plastic waste.
  2. To ensure that no damage is caused during such a process.
  3. To ensure channelisation of the recyclable plastic waste fraction to recyclers.
  4. To ensure the processing and disposal of a non-recyclable fraction of the plastic waste in accordance with the guidelines issued by the CPCB.
  5. To create awareness amongst all the stakeholders about their responsibilities.
  6. To engage civil societies or groups working with the waste pickers.
  7. To ensure that no open burning of plastic waste takes place.

Responsibility of Gram Panchayat  

Every Gram Panchayat sets up, operates and co-ordinate waste management in the rural area, either on its own or by engaging any agency under its control and for performing the following functions:

  • To ensure segregation, collection, storage, transportation of plastic waste and channelisation of the recyclable plastic waste fraction to the recyclers having valid registration.
  • To ensure that no damage is caused during any process related to plastic waste management.
  • To create awareness among all the stakeholders about their responsibilities.
  • To ensure that no open burning of plastic waste takes place. 

Registration of Producer, Recycler and Manufacturer

The producer, recycler and manufacturer shall follow the following points regarding the process of registration:

  • No person shall manufacture plastic carry bags or recycle plastic bags or multi-layered packaging without obtaining the registration prior to the commencement of the production from the concerned State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee.
  • Every producer or brand owner shall make an application to the SPCB or PCC, or the CPCB (if operating in two or more states) for the purpose of registration or renewal of registration. 
  • Every person involved in recycling or processing plastic waste or proposing to recycle or process plastic waste shall apply to SPCB or PCC to obtain the registration or renewal of registration for the recycling unit. 
  • Every manufacturer engaged in manufacturing the plastic to be used as raw materials by the producer shall also apply to the SPCB or the PCC for the registration or renewal of registration. 

Standard Operating Procedure

Manufacturers or sellers are required to provide six-monthly reports with details of the raw material procurement and the product sale to the concerned SPCB or PCC. These monthly reports are forwarded to the CPCB after the SPCB or PCC verifies the same. 

Filing Annual Report of Plastic Waste Management 

Every person who is engaged in the recycling or processing the plastic waste shall prepare an annual report and submit it to the concerned local body under the intimation to the SPCB or PCC by the 30th of April of each year. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a producer's responsibility for the environmentally sound management of end-of-life products.

The person or unit engaged in the production of plastic raw materials is to be used as raw material by the producer.

There are two categories of the plastics:
  • Thermoplastics (Recyclable)
  • Thermosetting (Non-Recyclable)

Plastic waste, after its due recycling, can be used for the following purposes:
  • Road construction
  • Refuse Derived Fuel
  • Cement kilns
  • Power plants

The enforcing authorities for the plastic waste management are as follows:
  1. State Pollution Control Board
  2. Secretary in charge of Local self Government
  3. Gram Panchayat
  4. District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner within the territorial jurisdiction

The responsibility of plastic waste management is on various stakeholders, such as:
  • Local body
  • Gram Panchayat
  • Waste Generator
  • Producer, Importer and Brand owner
  • State Pollution Control Board
  • Retailers and Street Vendors

The following are the action plan for plastic waste management:
  • To develop and set up the infrastructure for segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste.
  • To set up, operate, and co-ordinate a plastic waste management system. 
  • To seek the assistance of producers for plastic waste management.
  • To frame bye-laws focusing on the Plastic Waste Management Rules.
  • To impose fines on the defaulters. 
  • To constitute the State Level Advisory Body for the implementation of laws relating to plastic waste management. 
  • To organise IEC/BCC activities and awareness programmes in various districts with other stakeholders and the Municipality.
  • To submit an annual report to the SPCB.

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