Note4Students/Syllabus Mapping: GS3
Emphasizing that toxic constituents present in e-waste and their disposal mechanism affect human health and lead to various diseases, e-waste management becomes imperative.
The rapid internet penetration and smart phone revolution resulting in phones and other electronics contributed to 1.5 million tonnes of e-waste produced in India in 2015, 90% of which was managed by the informal sector using unscientific methods that cause harm to human health and the environment. These rules are critical from both health and environment perspective and important for CSE Mains 2017.
What comprises e-waste? What are the contributions of its components?
- E-waste – includes discarded computer monitors, motherboards, cathode ray tubes (CRTs), printed circuit board (PCB), mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, accumulators, mercury switches, polychlorinated biphenyl capacitors etc.
- Toxic elements associated with e waste usually are – Cadmium, Mercury, Lead, nickel, Chromium, Copper, Lithium, Silver and Manganese
Why is there a dire need for e-waste management?
- Many reports suggest that 62 million tons of waste is generated annually in the country at present, out of which 15 lakh tonne is e-waste.
- On the consumer side, most institutional waste generators such as educational institutions and industries, which generate close to 70% of the e-waste, are not aware of the rules and continue to sell their e-waste to the informal sector.
- The present set up of management of e-waste under the Environment Protection Act 1986 and the rules framed under it have failed to yield any tangible results.
E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 – What’s New?
- Manufacturer, dealer, refurbisher and Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) have been introduced as additional stakeholders in the rules.
- The applicability of the rules has been extended to components, consumables, spares and parts of EEE in addition to equipment as listed in Schedule I.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury containing lamp brought under the purview of rules.
- Collection mechanism based approach has been adopted to include collection centre, collection point, take back system etc for collection of e – waste by Producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
- Option has been given for setting up of PRO, e – waste exchange, e – retailer, Deposit Refund Scheme as additional channel for implementation of EPR by Producers to ensure efficient channelization of e – waste.
- Provision for Pan India EPR Authorization by CPCB has been introduced replacing the state wise EPR authorization.
- Deposit Refund Scheme has been introduced as an additional economic instrument wherein the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of the electrical and electronic equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the end – of – life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.
- The e – waste exchange as an option has been provided in the rules as an independent market instrument offering assistance or independent electronic systems offering services for sale and purchase of e – waste generated from end – of – life electrical and electronic equipment between agencies or organizations authorized under these rules.
- The manufacturer is also now responsible to collect e – waste generated during the manufacture of any electrical and electronic equipment and channelises it for recycling or disposal and seeks authorization from SPCB.
- The dealer, if has been given the responsibility of collection on behalf of the producer, need to collect the e – waste by providing the consumer a box and channelize it to Producer.
- Dealer or retailer or e – retailer shall refund the amount as per take back system or Deposit Refund Scheme of the producer to the depositor of e – waste.
- Refurbisher need collect e – waste generated during the process of refurbishing and channelises the waste to authorised dismantler or recycler through its collection centre and seeks one time authorization from SPCB.
- The roles of the State Government 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.
- Department of Industry in State or any other government agency authorized in this regard by the State Government is to ensure earmarking or allocation of industrial space or shed for e – waste dismantling and recycling in the existing and upcoming industrial park, estate and industrial clusters.
- Department of Labor in the State or any other government agency authorized in this regard by the State Government need to ensure recognition and registration of workers; assist formation of groups of such workers to facilitate setting up dismantling facilities; undertake industrial skill development activities; and undertake annual monitoring and to ensure safety & health of workers involved in dismantling and recycling.
- State Government to prepare integrated plan for effective implementation of these provisions, and to submit annual report to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- Liability for damages caused to the environment or third party due to improper management of e – waste including provision for levying financial penalty for violation of provisions of the Rules has also been introduced.
- Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) has been assign the duty to collect and channelized the orphan products to authorized dismantler or recycler.
Limitations of the revised E-Waste management rules:
- Unlike EPR regulations in other countries, no collection or recycling targets are imposed on producers.
- In the absence of targets, and in a relatively lax regulatory environment, producers have little incentive to ensure collection of their used products.
- Unfortunately, even the amended e-waste rules completely ignore the informal sector as millions of waste collectors carry out door-to-door collection of waste and their livelihoods depend on their ability to collect and sell the waste to informal recyclers.
- Only highly environmentally- conscious consumers will search for the nearest collection centre.
- In contrast, a rag-picker will come to the consumer’s house to pick up the waste and, to top it off, will pay the consumer.
- A requirement that producers implement a successful deposit-refund system (DRS) will depend on the political will to implement the amended rules.
- The government and the manufacturers have to recognize the informal sector and find mechanisms to bring it into the fold of formal waste management.
- The challenge, however, lies in creating awareness and training the half-a million unorganized workforce countrywide who collect E-Waste. Given that by 2050, about 40% of the country will get urbanized, It must be outlined how CSR can best be deployed to educate, train and develop the skills of the unorganized workforce besides efforts of the government.
- E-Waste training programs will be a part of the skill council for green jobs at NSDC.
- Successful models of E Waste management public awareness campaigns and specific e-waste policy like that of the European Union can be emulated.