Electronic waste (e-waste) refers to discarded electronic equipment or devices such as computers, mobile phones, refrigerators, television sets etc. which are no longer in use and may be put up for resale, reuse or recycle. E-waste is generated when the equipment is dumped by the buyer in cases where reuse, recycle or re-selling is not possible. Further, the resultant residue generated after recycle or reuse of these devices also adds to the e-waste that is generated. E-waste which contains potentially harmful components such as lead, cadmium etc. if not disposed of properly can lead to serious environmental damage and cause adverse health effects. The use and disposal of machinery and electronic gadgets is higher than ever and will continue to rise. Hence, an effective e-waste management system is imperative.
According to a survey carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2005, e-waste generated in the country was assessed as 1.46 lakh tonnes. As per the United Nations University Report ‘The Global e-Waste Monitor 2014’, 17 lakh tonnes of e-waste was generated in India in 2014, a massive increase in less than a decade.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change are working towards solving e-waste problem in the country. The Ministry has comprehensively revised the previous E-waste Rules of 2011 and notified E-Waste (Management) Rules in March, 2016 for more effective and environmentally sound management of e-waste. The salient features of e-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 are:
- Restructured extended producer responsibility (EPR) which has now been elaborated in terms of implementation procedure.
- The procedure simplification has been reduced, wherein EPR authorisation for producers is now being made CPCB’s responsibility to ensure pan India implementation.
- Simplification in registration/authorisation for dismantling and recycling through one system i.e. authorisation instead of both registration and authorisation is now introduced.
- Authorisation is not required for collection centers which shall now be the producers’ responsibility.
- The target based approach with introduction of more flexibility for implementation of EPR has been introduced and phase wise target has been fixed for ease of compliance of the EPR by the producers.
- Applicability of the rules is now being extended to components, consumables and spare parts of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) which makes the product operational.
- Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and other mercury containing lamps are brought under the purview of rules.
- Stakeholders to be covered under the rules are being expanded to manufacturer, dealer, refurbisher and e-retailer to address the leakage of e-waste to informal sector at any stage of the chain.
- Option has been given for setting up of producers responsibility organisation (PRO), e-waste exchange, deposit refund scheme as additional channel for implementation of EPR by producers to ensure efficient channelisation of e-waste.
- The role of the state governments has been also introduced in the Rules in order to ensure safety, health and skill development of the workers involved in the dismantling and recycling operations.
—Inputs from Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, May, 2016.