What's the article about?
- It analyses the recently notified a new set of e-waste rules by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
- GS2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation;
- GS3: Environment;
- In November 2022, the Ministry of Environment and Forests notified a new set of e-waste rules, which will come into force from April 1, 2023.
- These rules will replace E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 and will be effective from 1st April, 2023.
The salient feature of new rules is as under:
- Applicable to every manufacturer, producer, refurbisher, dismantler and recycler. (Stakeholders)
- All the manufacturers, producers, refurbishers and recyclers are required to register on a portal developed by CPCB.
- No entity shall carry out any business without registration and also not deal with any unregistered entity. (no informal sector allowed)
- Authorization has now been replaced by Registration through online portal and only manufacturer, producer, refurbisher and recycler require Registration.
- Management of solar PV modules /panels/ cells added in new rules.
- The quantity recycled will be computed on the basis of end products, so as to avoid any false claim.
- Provision for generation and transaction of EPR Certificate has been introduced.
- Provisions for environment compensation and verification & audit have been introduced.
- Provision for constitution of Steering Committee to oversee the overall implementation of these rules.
- Registration requirement:
- Unlike earlier rules, now all stakeholders must register with the CPCB. But a weak monitoring system and a lack of transparency results in inadequacy in compliance.
- Most of the ‘refurbishers’ or the ‘repair shops’ operating in Delhi are 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 channelise e-waste to the informal sector, which is a pure violation of law.
- A ‘digitalized systems approach’, introduced in the new rules (2022), may now address these challenges.
- Standardising the e-waste value chain through a common digital ‘portal’ may ensure transparency and is crucial to reduce the frequency of ‘paper trading’ or ‘false trail’, i.e., a practice of falsely revealing 100% collection on paper while collecting and/or weighing ‘scrap’ to meet targets.
- Inadequate provision for recovery:
- Two important stages of ‘efficient’ e-waste recycling are ‘component recovery’ and ‘residual disposal’.
- The rules briefly touch upon the two aspects, but do not clearly state the requirement for ensuring the ‘recovery tangent’.
- Dismantling of PROs:
- The new notification does away with PRO and dismantlers and vests all the responsibility of recycling with authorised recyclers; they will have to collect a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate digital certificates through the portal.
- This move seems to be a bit myopic and can cause initial turbulence, where the informal channels may try and seek benefits from.
- PROs acted as an intermediary between producers and formal recyclers by bidding for contracts from producers and arranging for ‘certified and authorised’ recycling.
- Fresh challenges might emerge as companies are no longer required to engage with PROs and dismantlers, who partially ensured ‘double verification’ in terms of quantity and quality of recycling.
- Informal sector left out:
- The informal sector is the ‘face’ of e-waste disposal in India as 95% of e-waste is channelised to the sector. Therefore, they also hold immense potential to improve the state of e-waste management. But these new rules do not recognise them.
- Case study:
- ‘Karo Sambhav’, a Delhi-based PRO, has integrated informal aggregators in its collection mechanism.
- Through this initiative, e-waste is entered in a safe and structured system and the informal sector also has an advantage in terms of financial and legal security.
- As per statistics available in public domain, India is the third largest generator of e-waste after China and USA.
- Though these new rules have some shortcomings, they are sure a step forward.
- Lack of awareness and information about the existence of any such rule among customers is one of the major challenges that needs special attention.