Role of Consumers in EPR
EPR is one term that is being thrown around a lot lately. So, what do consumers actually understand by EPR? What significance do they hold in the EPR framework? Industries and Corporations are producing waste every day in amounts inconceivable to a regular consumer. With so much production of plastic waste, the management of this waste ultimately lies on the shoulder of Communities, municipal corporations, and state governments. So, it becomes imperative for government to implement laws and regulations that will put the responsibility on plastic waste producers.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach that puts the financial and physical liability on manufacturers, producers, importers, and brand owners to treat, recycle, reuse and dispose of the end of life, post-consumer plastic waste produced by them.
While holding producers responsible for their plastic waste is a masterstroke in the policy approach towards building an efficient waste management system, we might not want to overlook the critical role of consumers in the EPR framework.
Responsibility of consumers in EPR
The consumer’s choices and actions are very vital to the process of implementation of EPR in India. When consumers purchase products, they set a trend in the market. This trend will eventually decide if most products will end up in landfills or recycling centers.
Hence, it becomes essential that consumers are conscious of their purchasing pattern and substantial carbon footprint. But what can we as consumers do to add value to the EPR system and accelerate the progress towards a circular economy? Let’s look at that below.
Adapting Conscious Consumerism
Every purchase a consumer makes is a “moral act”. What you purchase will ultimately end up back in the environment. Making series of small ethical purchasing decisions and being mindful of the product's durability may go a long way in the fight against plastic pollution.
The consumer has to be mindful of the ways they buy products. Buying a product that is recyclable and sustainable should take precedence. Before purchasing a product with packaging that may end up in a landfill, ask yourself if you really need it. Your decision to purchase sustainable products can actually drive businesses to rethink their linear business models and move towards a Circular Economy.
A brand does a lot of hard work to carve out a strong image among its consumers. Moreover, an ideal company would be able to win the trust of customers and will eventually survive longer.
Waste Segregation at Source
EPR is only effective if the waste is segregated at the source and disposed of accordingly. Effective segregation of waste means more waste goes through correct waste streams and less waste ends up at landfills.
Waste segregation should start at home. Your office may have separate bins for dry and wet waste and even your house should have some form of waste segregation. The mixed waste that is received currently only complicates the system and creates a burden of adding extra resources on municipalities for proper segregation.
Recycling and its proper disposal
There has been a sudden increase in the public outcry against single-use plastic and for all the right reasons. Single-use plastics are non-recyclable and difficult to dispose of. They end up in landfills and water streams causing adverse effects on territorial and aquatic life.
Avoiding single-use plastic and knowing your waste is the key to proper disposal. Recyclable plastic usually comes with a little recycling symbol printed on the bottom. So, consumers can make an informed decision and decide which plastic can be disposed of to recyclers.
We need to be accountable to our environment so that our next generation could have an ideal lifestyle. EPR is a great step to make it happen. The most important thing is the role of consumers in EPR since they hold the power to make or break a brand.