Greenvissage explains, Should there be a higher tax on junk food for public health?

In an era marked by escalating concerns over public health and rising rates of obesity, the debate surrounding the implementation of higher taxes on junk food has gained substantial traction. As the global population contends with the consequences of unhealthy dietary habits, policymakers grapple with the question of whether imposing financial penalties on the consumption of certain foods can serve as a viable solution. In response to soaring health concerns, Colombia has taken a bold step by introducing a tax on junk food, a move aimed at curbing the rising tide of obesity and related health issues. Colombia has introduced a progressive tax on junk food, starting at 10% and set to escalate to 15% next year and 20% by 2025. The strategy is simple – by making high-calorie, low-nutrient products more expensive, authorities hope to discourage excessive consumption, thereby addressing the surge in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As India grapples with a similar health crisis stemming from a shift towards fast food and away from traditional, nutrient-rich diets, the question arises: could higher prices on unhealthy snacks and beverages be the antidote to our caloric conundrum?

In India, the transition from traditional diets to a penchant for fast food has led to a notable increase in obesity and related health issues. According to the National Family Health Survey (2019-2021), the prevalence of overweight or obese individuals has risen significantly, marking a departure from the previous survey in 2015-16. This shift is attributed in part to the adoption of a more fast-food-centric culture. Globally, taxes have been employed to influence consumer habits, particularly with substances like tobacco and alcohol. When it comes to food, however, the approach is more nuanced. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that fiscal policies, such as taxes, can shape diet choices and improve nutritional outcomes, particularly in countries grappling with public health challenges. International examples showcase varying degrees of success. Mexico’s sugar-sweetened beverage tax resulted in a significant reduction in purchases of sugary drinks, while Hungary’s ‘public health product tax’ not only decreased sales of taxable products but also prompted unhealthy food manufacturers to reformulate their products. However, implementing a similar tax in India requires careful consideration. Our diverse dietary patterns and socio-economic differences indicate that a one-size-fits-all policy might not be effective. Ensuring the accessibility and affordability of healthier food options is equally vital for the success of such a policy.

The Colombian case also sparked a crucial debate about government intervention in public health through policy. In India, with our rich cultural diversity and varied dietary habits, the proposal of a junk food tax raises numerous questions. Can it be the key to a healthier population, or might it face resistance from the public? Well, balancing personal choices, cultural diversity, and collective health in our intricate dietary landscape is a complex challenge that demands careful consideration.

Greenvissage Explains, Homecoming – Why are Indian Startups Reverse Flipping?

The Indian startup ecosystem has witnessed a remarkable surge in recent years, with numerous innovative ventures emerging from across the country. However, a trend that has gained traction in recent times is the phenomenon of reverse flipping, where startups that were initially incorporated in offshore jurisdictions are now choosing to relocate their holding companies back to India. Startups that were initially incorporated in offshore jurisdictions, such as Singapore, Mauritius, or the Cayman Islands, relocate their holding companies back to India. This trend marks a significant shift in the perception of India’s startup environment, highlighting the growing maturity and attractiveness of the Indian market. Reverse flipping, also known as internalization or homecoming, is a business strategy where a company that was initially incorporated in a foreign jurisdiction transfers its domicile back to its country of origin. This process involves restructuring the company’s ownership and control to bring it under the domestic legal and regulatory framework.

India’s startup ecosystem has matured significantly over the past decade, offering a supportive environment for entrepreneurs with access to funding, talent, and infrastructure. The Indian government has also implemented various initiatives to promote entrepreneurship and attract startups, including tax incentives, ease of doing business reforms, and dedicated startup programs. Besides, India’s vast and growing consumer market presents immense opportunities for startups across various sectors, making it an attractive destination for launching and scaling businesses. Simultaneously, India’s venture capital and private equity ecosystem has grown considerably, providing ample funding opportunities for startups seeking growth capital. All these reasons have together made an environment that enables startups to thrive and therefore, startups are moving back to India. The online furniture retailer, Pepperfry, initially incorporated in Singapore but relocated its holding company to India in 2021. Urbanladder, its competitor, also shifted its business from Mauritius to India in 2022. PhonePe, the digital payments platform too, was initially incorporated in Singapore but relocated its holding company to India in 2022. Meesho, RazorPay, Groww and Sharechat are some other examples of startups coming back home.

Reverse flipping can provide Indian companies with access to a larger pool of capital, including domestic venture capital funds and institutional investors. This can help them fuel their growth and expansion plans. Listing on Indian stock exchanges can also enhance the brand image and credibility of these companies, making them more attractive to investors, partners, and customers. Reverse flipping brings back valuable knowledge and expertise that was developed overseas. This can contribute to the overall growth and development of the Indian economy. As these companies expand their operations in India, they are likely to create new job opportunities, contributing to employment growth and economic development. The return of Indian companies can foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the country, as they bring back new ideas and technologies. Overall, reverse flipping can strengthen the Indian startup ecosystem by demonstrating the viability and potential of domestic companies, and encouraging other entrepreneurs to stay and grow their businesses in India. The trend of reverse flipping can encourage the government to further streamline regulations and improve the business environment, making India more attractive for both domestic and foreign companies.

Greenvissage explains, What are the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022?

The Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022, is a significant stride by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, toward ensuring the environmentally sound management of waste batteries. The rules mark the Government’s commitment to promoting a Circular Economy. Replacing the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001, the new regulations encompass all battery types, emphasizing Electric Vehicle batteries, portable batteries, automotive batteries, and industrial batteries. In an era dominated by technological advancements and the rapid proliferation of battery-powered devices, the introduction of the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022, represents a commendable effort to address the escalating challenge of battery waste.

The rules mandate that producers of batteries are responsible for the collection and recycling/refurbishment of waste batteries. This means that producers must either collect and recycle the batteries themselves or pay a designated entity to do so. A centralized online portal will be set up for the exchange of EPR certificates between producers and recyclers/refurbishers. This will make it easier for producers to track their progress in meeting their EPR obligations and for recyclers to get credit for the recycling they do. Producers and recyclers/refurbishers must register online with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). This will help the CPCB to track who is responsible for what and to ensure that everyone is complying with the rules. Environmental compensation will be imposed for non-fulfilment of EPR targets, responsibilities and obligations. This means that if a producer does not meet its EPR obligations, it will have to pay a fine. The funds collected from these fines will be used to fund the collection and recycling of waste batteries. There is also a target for recovery of the battery material — 70% by 2024-25, then 80% by 2026, and 90% after 2026-27 onwards. This means that by 2027, 90% of all waste batteries must be recycled or refurbished. The rules also include providing for the labelling of batteries with information about their chemical composition and recyclability, the establishment of a system for the collection of waste batteries, the development of safe and environmentally sound recycling and refurbishment processes, the training of personnel involved in the handling of waste batteries and the monitoring and enforcement of the rules. However, despite the positive strides, critical gaps within the regulations threaten to impede the efficiency of recycling processes.

Current battery labels lack comprehensive information about their chemical composition, making it challenging for recyclers to identify and segregate different types of batteries effectively. This hinders efficient recycling processes and limits the recovery of valuable materials. Meanwhile, battery packs often have intricate assembly methods involving welding, adhesive, and screws, making disassembly challenging and labour-intensive. This complexity increases the cost of recycling and reduces the overall recyclability of batteries. As the volume of spent batteries increases, informal collectors might outprice formal collectors, potentially leading to hazardous recycling practices and safety concerns. Informal recyclers often lack the expertise and infrastructure to handle hazardous battery materials safely and may resort to methods that release harmful substances into the environment. The absence of specific rules governing the storage, transport, and handling of electric vehicle batteries can also pose safety risks. Addressing these gaps will require a concerted effort involving policy-makers, industry stakeholders, technological innovators, and environmental experts.