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Updated: August 17, 2013 07:54 IST

Put onus of recycling on producers

  • Rajesh Rangarajan
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Rajesh Rangarajan
Rajesh Rangarajan

Smart policy should pave the way for new products having more recycled content and consumer behaviour should be altered through fiscal measures, says Rajesh, an independent resercher

Recycling is an integral part of a smart waste management system. Fundamentally it reduces the pressure on extraction of virgin raw material, often sourced from natural resources, and hence theoretically should prevent resource exploitation.

Recycling does not mean we can consume more. Only when coupled with moderated consumption recycling makes better sense.

Smart policy should pave the way for new products having more recycled content and consumer behaviour should be altered through fiscal measures to encourage the use of such products and less of virgin products.

However the biggest concern is the ‘business-as-usual’ human approach which promotes a flawed paradigm of ‘dig deeper, suck harder, consume more and carelessly dump anywhere.’ Before everyone throws up their hands in despair, let us understand that there are demonstrated, proven methods that make recycling attractive and have led to smart and efficient waste management.

Producer responsibility (also called Extended Producer Responsibility) offers a solution. The onus of taking back and responsibly recycling the product in an environment friendly manner is placed squarely on the producer of the product. Very easily this reduces the burden of waste management on government and makes consumers and manufacturers to work together in diverting waste from dumping yards.

Therefore what EPR does is that it encourages consumers to actively recycle through incentives; reduces resource extraction/raw material purchase cost for the manufacturer which means better profits; eases the pressure on the natural resource and ultimately drives better product design. Cars, electronics, plastics and even packaging material are all subjected to EPR policies worldwide. Are we not smart enough to do the same in our cities?

Rajesh is an independent researcher and consultant on Environmental Policy and Waste Management

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