From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : EPR, PRO
Mains level : E-waste management
A proposed framework by the Centre for regulating e-waste in India has upset a key link of India’s electronic waste collection system and threatens the livelihood of thousands of people.
Menace of E-Waste in India
- Electronic waste, or electronic goods that are past their productive life and old parts, is largely handled by India’s vast informal sector.
- Spent goods are dismantled and viable working parts refurbished, with the rest making their way into chemical dismantling units.
- Many of these units are run out of unregulated sweatshops that employ child labour and hazardous extraction techniques.
Remedy against this: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
- To address all of this, the Environment Ministry brought the E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016.
- This introduced a system of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) compelling makers of electronic goods to ensure a proportion of the goods they sold every year was recycled.
- They are expected to maintain records annually demonstrating this.
- Most companies however did not maintain an in-house unit in charge of recycling and this gave rise to a network of government-registered companies, called Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO).
How PROs work?
- PROs act as an intermediary between manufacturers and formal recycling
- They are (expected to be) technologically equipped to recycle end-of-life electronic goods safely and efficiently.
- The PROs typically bid for contracts from companies and arrange for specified quantities of goods to be recycled.
- They provide companies certified proof of recycling that they then maintain as part of their records. Several PROs work on consumer awareness and enable a supply chain for recycled goods.
Functional PROs in India
- As of March 2022, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has registered 74 PROs and 468 authorised dismantlers.
- They have a collective recycling capacity of about 1.3 million tonnes.
What is the extent of E-Waste production in India?
- The Ministry estimated 7.7 lakh tonnes of e-waste to have been generated in 2018-19.
- Around one million tonnes in 2019-20 of which only a fifth (about 22% in both years) has been confirmed to be “dismantled and recycled”.
What is the controversy now?
- This May, the Ministry issued a draft notification that does away with the PROs and dismantlers and vests all responsibility of recycling with authorised recyclers.
- Only a handful of authorised recyclers exist in India.
- Recyclers will source a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate electronic certificates.
- Companies can buy these certificates equivalent to their annual committed target and thus do not have to be involved with engaging the PROs and dismantlers.
- Dismantling a fledgling system was detrimental to the future of e-waste management in India.
What is the rationale behind?
- The Centre has not explained its rationale for dismantling the existing system in its draft notification.
- However, a final policy is yet to emerge.
- The new rules would track the material that went in for recycling with the output claimed by a recycler when they claimed GST (Goods and Services Tax) input credit.
Also read this comprehensive article:
Try this PYQ:
Q.In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?
(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998
(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999
(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011
(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011
Post your answers here.