In November 2022, the Ministry of Environment and Forests further notified a new set of e-waste rules, which will come into force from April 1, 2023.
So, let us analyse the provisions under the new rules.
The first set of e-waste Rules was notified in 2011 and came into effect in 2012.
An important component of the Rules (2011) was the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
Under EPR compliance, ‘producers’ are responsible for the safe disposal of electronic and electric products once the consumer discards them.
E-waste rules 2016, which were amended in 2018, were comprehensive and included provisions to promote ‘authorisation’ and ‘product stewardship’.
Other categories of stakeholders such ‘Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO)’ were also introduced in these rules.
Need for a new set of rules:
Most of the ‘refurbishers’ or the ‘repair shops’ operating was found as not authorised under the Central Pollution Control Board of India.
Further, many formal recyclers undertake activities only up to the pre-processing or segregation stage, and thereafter channelize e-waste to the informal sector, which is a pure violation of law.
Provisions of E-waste rules 2022:
Application: It will apply to every manufacturer, producer, refurbisher, dismantler and recycler involved in manufacturing, sale, transfer, purchase, refurbishing, dismantling, recycling and processing of e-waste or electrical and electronic equipment.
The rule is applicable to all electrical devices and radiotherapy equipment, nuclear medicine equipment and accessories, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), electric toys, air conditioners, microwaves, tablets, washing machine, refrigerator and iPad among others.
The government has restricted the use of hazardous substances in manufacturing electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) following deaths due to exposure to radioactive material.
It mandates the reduction of the use of lead, mercury, cadmium among others in the manufacturing of electronic equipment.
Reuse and recycling:
Manufacturers shall use the technology or methods so as to make the end product recyclable and shall ensure that components or parts made by different manufacturers are compatible with each other so as to reduce the quantity of e-waste.
The Central Pollution Control Board shall conduct random sampling of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market to monitor and verify the compliance of reduction of hazardous substances provisions.
If a product does not comply with the e-waste management rules, the manufacturer will have to withdraw all samples from the market.
Extended Producer Responsibility Certificates:
Draft rules aim to incentivise registered electronic waste recyclers by introducing EPR or Extended Producer Responsibility certificates (which was not part of 2016 Rules).
E-waste exchange facilities:
The EPR requires producers to set up e-waste exchange facilities to facilitate collection and recycling, and assign specific responsibility to bulk consumers of electronic products for safe disposal.
Imports:Imports or placement in the market for new electrical and electronic equipment shall be permitted only for those which are compliant with provisions laid down by the government.
It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to collect e-waste generated during manufacture and to ensure its recycling or disposal.
However, the rule does not apply to waste batteries, packaging plastics, micro enterprises and radio-active waste, as covered under the provisions of the law.
Left Unorganised sector behind: The informal sector is the ‘face’ of e-waste disposal in India as 95% of e-waste is channelized to the sector.
Therefore, they also hold immense potential to improve the state of e-waste management.
Responsibility given to dismantlers for data updation: The new notification does away withProducer Responsibility Organisations (PRO)and dismantlers and vests all the responsibility of recycling with authorised recyclers where they will have to collect a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate digital certificates through the portal.