Pollution to Solution: Here’s How Maharashtra govt to implement India’s first plastic buyback scheme from July

The Maharashtra government will implement India’s first plastic buyback scheme for PET bottles and milk pouches from July.Under this scheme, customers will get back a deposit paid to a retailer on handing PET bottles or milk pouches back to the store. The state is also planning to institute a similar mechanism for tetra packs and retail packaging in three months. The buyback depository system is prevalent in 40 countries around the world.

The state has mandated manufacturers to take responsibility for setting up collection and recycling infrastructure for plastic in the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, 2018.

The move may help the city reduce the generation of plastic waste, but it has been facing challenges in its implementation as recyclers say the guidelines are not clear.

“So far there is no mechanism for me to find out how many Bisleri or Aquafina bottles were crushed in my crushing machines. How do I seek compensation from manufacturers in the absence of that data? A bar code mechanism needs to be in place, which will take more than three days to do, “Arvind Shah of Wild West Innovations, a leading plastic recycler, told the paper.

Experts believe that the high deposit rates, shortage of recycling capacity and lack of incentives may render the scheme a non-starter.

“A 500 ml bottle costs 60 paise and the recycler has to refund Rs 2 to consumers. How will this work? People will start manufacturing empty PET bottles and dump them in these machines. That would give them a profit of Rs 1.40 per bottle. The scheme will only work if the recycler also generates profits,” Shah said on the Rs 2 refundable charge for PET bottles of less than 1-litre capacity.

Officials from the environment department have been holding consultations with manufacturers regarding the plastic ban across the state. “This policy is continuously being revised. Suggestions and difficulties of all the stakeholders are considered,” an official told the paper.

The recyclers add that mixing different grade of plastics at the recycling stage would yield low-value plastic. Thus, if the three types of plastics — the bottle, plastic wrapper and lid are not sorted — value of crushed material will be reduced.

Source: Money Control

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