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March 2024

Recycling Of Wastes – An Accounting Conundrum?

By Nilanjan Paul, Chartered Accountant
Reading Time 10 mins

Old mobile phones. Plastic wrapper of a chocolate bar. Used tyres. Most people would think of this kind of detritus as a future landfill, as the bulk of these wastes goes unprocessed. The ever-growing pile of waste is causing irreversible damage to the environment.

But not anymore. Indian lawmakers are waking up and passing / amending Rules under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, to enforce Extended Producer Responsibility for certain entities. These Rules cast an obligation on producers / brand owners / importers for environmentally sound management of their products that have reached their end of life and are now considered a waste. Extended Producer Responsibility includes collection / recycling of waste as prescribed in the Rules.

Based on the ‘Polluter-Pays Principle’ the purpose of these Rules is neither to transfer public expenditure to these entities nor to penalise them, but to set appropriate signals in place in the economic system so that environmental costs are incorporated in the decision-making process and hence arrive at sustainable development that is environment-friendly. These Rules have continuously been expanded to cover major categories of wastes and include manufacturers and importers irrespective of the selling technique used, such as dealers, retailers, e-retailers,etc (i.e. producers) and online platforms / market places and supermarkets

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