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India: Producer Responsibility Organization

February 12, 2019
VOL IV
ISSUE No. 04
Feb 12, 2019

 


 

India: Producer Responsibility Organization

Introduction

Principles of extended producer responsibility (hereinafter referred to as ‘EPR’) have been the core of most of the recent policies and legislation dealing with the end of-life management of recyclable goods. The rising consumption of a range of complex durable goods over the years has resulted in a serious environmental problem. Proper management of the waste thus generated has been a matter of serious concern for policy makers. The authorities in the last decade has imposed the burden on the producers of these goods to be responsible for their end of-life management. The producer may also choose to delegate this responsibility to a third party, a so-called producer responsibility organization (‘PRO’), which is paid by the producer for used product management.

Extended producer responsibility and Polluters pays principle

Most of these policies are based on the principle of EPR, which makes the producers responsible for the environmental impacts throughout the life-cycle of products. EPR is based on the polluter-pays principle (PPP’), but emphasises life-cycle impact of the products. Organization for Economic Co-operation and 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 of a product’s life cycle including its final disposal[1]. EPR is not part of corporate social responsibility (‘CSR’), instead it is part of sustainable business practice.

Legislation

In India, the concept of PRO is recognized in two sectors namely, plastic waste management[2] and e-waste management[3]. The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, and Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, imposes primary burden on the producer for collection of waste plastic electronic products. They need to establish a system for collecting back the waste generated due to their products.

PRO is defined as a professional organization authorized or financed collectively or individually by producers, which can take the responsibility for collection and channelization of e-waste generated from the ‘end-of-life’ of their products to ensure environmentally sound management of such e-waste.[4] A PRO/Agency is a professional organization that helps Producers/Brand Owners meets their EPR targets through various processing technologies for plastic waste including MLP or its End of Life applications like Waste to Energy, Waste to fuel, Waste to Road and Waste to cement kiln in the country.

Role of PRO

PRO assist the producers upon engagement in one or more of the following tasks–

  • Achieving collection targets,
  • Establishment of collection mechanism such as door to door collection.
  • Implementation of buy back/take back
  • of collection centers/points this may include setting up of collection godowns or operating through warehouses as per the guidelines issued by Central Pollution Control Board (‘CPCB’)
  • Logistics arrangements
  • Ensuring traceability of the e-waste collected and channelized & disposal of processed waste & end of life plastic waste.
  • Ensuring Environmentally sound dismantling and recycling.
  • Conducting awareness programme among consumer’s/bulk consumers/producers for collection and channelization waste
  • Helping producers in filing of quarterly/annual returns as per the rules.
  • Provide an extended producer’s responsibility plan as legally required.

Capacity and capability of PRO

A PRO/Agency should specify its capacity for handling waste, which include capacity for collection, storage and recyclers with whom it has arrangement for recycling of such waste. A PRO should also be capable of channelizing plastic and electronic waste for meeting the collection targets of its Producers/Brand Owners.

Registration and Recognition of PRO

The application form which is to be submitted to CPCB for registration of PRO is annexed with the guidelines for both plastic as well as electronic waste management. The guidelines for e-waste management does not stipulate any minimum requirements for registration of PRO, while guidelines for plastic waste management stipulates following minimum requirements –

  1. Registration from any Statutory Body;
  2. Minimum 5 years’ experience in Waste Management (Municipal Solid Waste & Plastic Waste);
  3. Success stories for disposal of Municipal Solid Waste & plastic waste;
  4. TAN, GST & PAN numbers.

However, in both the case, CPCB has the authority to scrutinize, verify and examine the application and decide accordingly. The target time for response by CPCB shall be 25 days.

The registration under E-waste management Rules shall be valid for a period of three years. An application for renewal of registration shall be made before 60 days of its expiry. Any appeal shall lie before the Chairman of the CPCB.

Conclusion/ Analysis

Regulation of PRO by CPCB is a positive step in waste management process. The success of EPR and PRO depends on the upstream management, like having an effective regulatory framework highlighting the role of different stakeholders and proper guidelines for producers. PRO plays important role as it is responsible for carrying out collection, transportation and recycling on behalf of the producers.

[1] OECD, 2001; Walls, 2006; Widmer et al., 2005.

[2] Guidelines & application form for recognition of PRO/Agency dated August 11, 2018 [Under Plastic waste management Rules, 2016 as amended 2018].

[3] Guidelines for PRO dated May 23, 2018 [Under E-waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018].

[4] Section 3(dd) of E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016.

 


 

India: Liability of Bank for Non Availability of Cash in its ATM

Non-availability of cash is one of the most common messages reflected at the ATM. However, it is interesting to contemplate whether the bank can be held responsible for deficiency in its services for such non-availability of cash. A similar complaint was filed before the Consumer Forum at Raipur against the State Bank of India by one Mr. Rajiv Aggarwal in which the Consumer Forum decided if it would be considered as lack of service ignoring the withdrawer’s problem[1].

Relation between bank and withdrawer

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (the ‘Act’) applies to all goods and services. It was contended by the bank that the complainant is not a consumer of the bank and it was using its ATM for some other bank and therefore the dispute cannot be governed by the Act. In a first of its kind order,[2] the Consumer Forum at Raipur held that, when the bank charges for using ATM for the whole year in advance and it provides that the bank account holder is free to use the ATM of any bank, such holder automatically becomes its consumer irrespective of whether or not the withdrawer holds an account with the bank[3].

Negligence by the bank

The Forum further held that the complainant faced the problem of ‘Cash not available’ on multiple occasions[4]. Thus, the Forum rejected the contention by the bank that such message was due to the internet failure, therefore due to the fault of the internet service provider and not the bank[5]. The Consumer Forum held that it was due to the mismanagement and irregularities of the bank employees that resulted in deficiency of services by the bank.

Order

The Consumer Forum at Raipur held the bank liable for deficiency in its services and imposed a penalty of INR 2500 (USD 36 approx.) in form of INR 1500 (USD 22 approx.) for mental harassment and INR 1000 (USD 15 approx.) towards legal fees. The Court further held that if the bank can penalize customers for cheque bounce and missed payment or keeping less than minimum balance in their account, the bank should also be treated with the same standards and held responsible for its shortcomings.[6]

Effect and Analysis

As per the order of the Consumer Forum at Raipur, the bank can be held liable for non-availability of cash in its ATM. If the ATM machine is short of cash or without cash, then under such circumstances, banks can be penalized if their ATMs does not dispense cash for the reason “cash not available”. This order secures the interest of the consumer by imposing a duty on the banks to be more diligent about reloading its ATM.

[1] (September 10, 2017) Consumer forum fines SBI for ignoring customer’s problem available at https://dailypost.in/news/consumer-forum-fines-sbi-ignoring-customers/.

[2] Rita Bansal, Analysis of deficiency in ATM Services vis–a-vis liability of the banks, International Journal of Legal Developments and Allied Issues, Volume 4 Issue 4, July 2018 available at http://ijldai.thelawbrigade.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Rita-Bansal.pdf.

[3] (December 27, 2018) Banks Responsible for Failed Transactions and No Cash in ATMs available at https://www.moneylife.in/article/banks-responsible-for-failed-transactions-and-no-cash-in-atms/55999.html.

[4] (June 25, 2018) Ayush Jain, Consumer Forum holds bank liable for ‘Non-availability of Cash’ at the ATM available at http://5thvoice.news/legalnews/MzA4MQ==/Consumer-Forum-holds-Bank-liable-for-Non-Availability-of-Cash-at-the-ATM#.

[5] (January 2, 2019) Chitranjan Kumar ed., SBI fined Rs 2,500 after its ATM failed to dispense cash available at https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/sbi-fined-rs-2500-after-its-atm-failed-to-dispense-cash/story/305922.html.

[6] (June 22, 2018) Consumer Forum holds Bank liable for ‘Non-Availability of Cash’ at the ATM available at https://www.latestlaws.com/latest-news/consumer-forum-holds-bank-liable-for-non-availability-of-cash-at-the-atm/.

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