Overview of the Standard Operating Procedure notified by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on 23.03.2021 came out with the Standard Operating Procedure for Registration of Producers, Importers & Brand- Owners (PIBOs) under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 (‘Rules’). The registration process under the rules has come under intense scrutiny due to ambiguity and lack of process mechanism to implement the same. By issuing the current SOP, CPCB has tried to fill in the lacune to implement the Rules and close in some of the gaps.
Under the SOP, Producers, Importers & Brand Owners are collectively referred to as PIBOs. As per Clause 2 of the SOP, PIBOs shall fulfill EPR in all the States/ UTs in which they introduce their products. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) target for a particular State/UT shall be equal to the type and quantum of plastic introduced by them in the market (post-consumer waste) in that specific state. This essentially means that a separate EPR would have to be prepared for each state in which the PIBOs are introducing plastic. Crucially, the SOP has missed providing clarity on e-commerce operations, especially when major e-commerce companies are under scrutiny by the National Green Tribunal for the amount of plastic used by them. The Rules are silent on the situation if the warehouse of an e-commerce company is in one state and it delivers items to another state, then in which state the plastic waste would be considered to have been introduced.
The PIBOs have been provided three options for implementation of EPR plan for Plastic Waste Management (PWM):
- Through own Distribution Channel;
- Through Urban Local Bodies (ULBs); or
- Waste Management Agency (WMA) which in turn should engage ULBs.
As per Clause 3.1, PIBOs shall apply to CPCB for online registration on the portal, and the application has to be submitted along with the prescribed fee. Earlier, CPCB was entertaining applications in either hard copy or soft copy mode, and the objections raised by CPCB were notified via email.
EPR Action Plan has to be submitted state-wise and for each state in which plastic is being introduced in the market (Clause 3.2). For ease of compliance, CPCB has clarified that PIBOs can engage multiple WMAs;
- The following details have to be provided for each WMA:-
- Name of WMA;
- Quantity and type of plastic waste proposed to be managed through WMA; and
- Validity of agreement with WMA
Clause 3.3 mentions that list of documents required for registration and the same are as follows:-
- Proof of Selling in more than two states (GST/ tax invoices);
- DIC Certificate, if the unit has a production facility;
- Valid Consents under Air & Water Act, if the unit has a production facility;
- Documents related to Action Plan for fulfilling EPR liability;
- Documents issued by ULB/ designated state authority related to engagement of PIBO/ WMA (as applicable);
- Registration issued by SPCBs/PCCs to Plastic Waste Processing Facility
- Documents issued by ULB related to engagement of WMA (as applicable); and
- Agreement of WMA with PIBO (as applicable)
As per Clauses 3.5 and 3.6, CPCB has also prescribed the responsibility of State Governments/ Administrator as well as the SPCB/ PCC for better implementation of the Rules and compliances under it. The State/ UT has to provide for a nodal agency for coordinating the EPR Framework. They have also been given the task of submitting half-yearly reports on EPR related activities. Similarly, the SPCB has been given the task of monitoring the EPR activities at the ground level, ensuring its effective implementation. They also have to validate the information provided by the State Nodal Agency and PIBO and submit the same to CPCB.
Under the present SOP, CPCB has come up with timelines for the registration process. These timelines would ensure speedy processing of application and grant of registration certificate. CPCB has to inform about the shortcoming in documents, if any, in 7 working days. If PIBO does not respond to queries raised by CPCB with 30 days, application by PIBO shall be considered as withdrawn. If CPCB does not send any response within 30 days of receiving the complete application, the registration certificate shall be deemed to be generated. Once the complete application is submitted, PIBOs shall be issued a certificate within seven working days. First registration would be valid for one year, and subsequent registrations shall be valid for three years. After registration, the EPR Plan and registration certificate must be shared with State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB). Clause 3.7
Under the SOP, submission of half-yearly progress reports has been made mandatory, and the half-yearly progress reports have to be submitted within fifteen days of completion of the corresponding half year with the concerned SPCB. (Clause 3.8). The SOP provides for exact details which need to be provided in the half-yearly reports depending upon the option the PIBO chooses for implementation of EPR.
Clause 3.10, dealing with the renewal process, makes it mandatory for the PIBOs to apply for renewal four months before the expiry of the registration, along with the necessary documents. PIBOs have to submit all half-yearly reports before applying for renewal. The renewal certificate would be granted within fifteen days of receipt of complete documents by CPCB. Member Secretary, CPCB shall be the approving authority for issuing the certificate.
The following documents need to be submitted for renewal:-
- Application form in the prescribed format;
- Copy of original registration certificate; and
- EPR Action Plan;
The renewal would be based on the compliance status as received from the State Boards.
As per Clause 3.11, the registration can be cancelled in case the documents submitted by PIBOs are found to be false. A show-cause notice may be issued in case any PIBO is found violating the provisions of the Rules and registration. The cancellation or suspension decision would be taken after hearing the PIBO, and the same shall be intimated within ten working days after hearing. Chairman, CPCB has been designated as the final authority for deciding on cancellation or suspension.
While the SOP is a welcome step from the point of view of PIBOs, it clarifies many aspects; however, its implementation on the ground remains clear. The compliance cost for PIBOs is excepted to go up further as they would require collaboration with more PWM agencies and ULBs in all the state in which they are introducing plastic.
By Abhay Pratap Singh, Partner