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Responsible Recycling needs Contribution from every Strata of Society

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DQI Bureau
New Update

According to a national survey conducted by an international NGO, India

generates a whopping 4 lakh tonnes of hazardous e-waste every year and the count

is still increasing. With the view to take remedial action before it is too

late, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) recently put the draft

e-waste (management and handling) rules, 2010 in the public domain as a part of

the government process of rule making. Even if the MoEFs proposals come into

effect as a law, environmentalists are of the opinion that the road ahead for

the government would not be easy owing to the resistance faced from the

industry. Officials admit that the efficacy of the proposals will depend on a

proactive approach from the industry.

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Welcoming the move, Vinnie Mehta, executive director, MAIT says, The

recently announced new set of rules for the environmentally sound management of

e-waste is the need of the hour. E-waste is one of the worlds fastest growing

waste streams and with increased consumption of IT and electronic products,

India will soon be faced with the challenges of managing the same. Currently, an

estimated 3,80,000 metric tonnes of e-waste is generated annually in India.

Mehta further adds, Earlier there were no mandates. But, now with a mandate

in place, it will help us keep the country clean and green. Even other

developing countries like China, Thailand, etc, have formulated such policies.

It has been a great move to get the unauthorized sector into the formal sector.

Abhishek Pratap, toxics campaigner, Greenpeace India says, Producers

financial responsibility in the rules is being diluted by combining their

individual responsibility with shared responsibility for managing the future

e-waste arising from their products. For the benefit of the producers as well as

consumers, the financial liability of each producer should be explicit and not

provided as an option.

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Dr Lakshmi Raghupathy, advisor, MAIT/GTZ says, The draft that the government

has accepted and put in the public domain is more or less similar to the one

that we had submitted to the government. But, they need to consider some

concerns and take cognizance regarding them.

Provisions



The provisions in the rules place the responsibility for the entire

lifecycle of the product from design to waste on the producer. Apart from the

extended producer responsibility principle, the rules contain provisions for

reduction of certain hazardous substances in the electronic products based on

the standard outline in the rule (schedule III of the rule). If it is observed

closely, one will realize that the extended producer responsibility clause is

yet to become a reality in India.

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Currently, approximately twenty companies are active in collecting e-waste

from consumers. To ensure a smooth functioning of the cycle, the best option

would be for the dealers to collect e-waste by providing consumers a bin or a

demarcated area to deposit used goods. The producers responsibility clause has

been recast from what we had submitted. But, basically there is clarity missing

on this topic, informs Dr Raghupathy. If rules are scanned well, it will be

noticed that it has been made compulory for banks, MNCs, and other big companies

to deposit e-waste at authorized collection centers. But, what remains a major

concern is the fact that it will need a proactive approach from the industry to

make the rule a success story.

There is legal ambiguity on financial responsibility of the producers

regarding their historic and future waste. Both collective and individual

financing systems are allowed for producers to manage their historic and future

end of the life products which will not be good for effective e-waste

management in the country and weaken the liability on the producers. This is a

legal loophole which can be exploited by the producers to get away from their

true responsibility.

Why have they only banned imports for

charity purposes, when e-waste can be easily brought as a gift or for the

purpose of dismantling

Dr Lakshmi, Raghupathy,

advisor, MAIT/GTZ

Earlier there were no mandates. But now

with a mandate in place, it will help us to keep the country clean and green

Vinnie Mehta, executive director, MAIT

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Another aspect in the rules which is a cause of concern is the standards

adopted for the reduction of hazardous substances (RoHS) in the electronic and

electrical products. Instead of adopting the European Union (EU) standard, which

is considered a global standard, the government has chosen to re-invent the

standard. The EU standard is adopted across the world and non-adoption of the

EU standard in the rule for RoHS could prove detrimental for growth of the

Indian electronics sector at the international level, informs Pratap.

The Environment and Forests Ministry has broadened the definition of e-waste

to include items like remote-controlled toys, gaming consoles, household

appliances and smoke detectors besides computers, television sets, fax machines,

mobile phones and medical equipments. Thus, this brings a lot of waste matter

under the umbrella of the recycling process.

Draft Policy Highlights
  • Registrations will become important even for the big recyclers or for

    people from the informal sector
  • Imports for charity purpose have been completely banned
  • The definition of e-waste has been broadened to include a lot of items

    like remote-controlled toys, gaming consoles, household appliances, smoke

    detectors, computers, television sets, fax machines, mobile phones,

    medical equipment, etc
What the Draft Policy missed out on
  • The Channel of the kabaddiwala is very strong. There is an urgent need

    for some regulation
  • There is a legal ambiguity on financial responsibility of the

    producers regarding their historic and future waste
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Further, the rule also puts a complete ban on the import of all used

electronic equipments for charity purpose. Elaborating on the flaws in this

clause, Dr Raghupathy explains, The clause on import and export has been

included in the miscellaneous chapter and no separate chapter has been dedicated

to it. There has been only one sentence written about the handling of used

electronics items. But, the ban on getting electronic goods for charity purpose

is totally unclear. Why have they only banned imports for charity purpose, when

e-waste can be easily brought as a gift or for the purpose of dismantling. This

is a loophole which can be misused also. Why have imports been banned only for

one channel and why has there been no plug put for the other channels? There can

be large scale imports for recycling purposes.

The Responsibility



Even the technology used to recycle by recyclers in the informal sector is

not known. The channel of the kabaddiwala is very strong. So, the informal

sector needs to be limited in the sense that its activities need to be curtailed

to collection and dismantling, and passing the lot to the formal sector for

further procedures.

Registrations will become important even for the big recyclers or for people

from the informal sector too. This will bring about an accountability at every

stage in the cycle of recycling of e-waste. Government responsibility will now

increase.

On a final note, it can be concluded that the law itself cannot cover each

and every aspect of the industry and in case changes are necessary, the same

could be included by the way of an amendment. Apart from that, the biggest need

of the hour is for the consumers to get rid of their inborn instincts to earn a

few bucks by selling e-waste.

Shilpa Shanbhag



shilpas@cybermedia.co.in

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