Manage e-waste the EU way

Proposed legislation makes producers responsible for recycling

By Ruhi Kandhari
Published: Monday 15 November 2010

imageELECTRICAL and electronic equipment produced in India will not contain toxic substances like cadmium, mercury and lead, according to a new legislation on managing growing e-waste. E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules that specify EU norms for Indian electronics, will be effective from 2012. Reduction in the Use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) standards will be applied within three years after that. (See ‘Digital residue’, Down To Earth, May 16-31, 2010).

“Adoption of RoHS standards will bring best practices in electrical and electronic production in India and make most of the e-waste generated free of hazardous substances,” said Lakshmi Raghupathy from E-waste Recyclers’ Association. The rules will pin more responsibility on electronic equipment producers in managing e-waste, she added.

Under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) clause, the producers will be responsible for ecofriendly management of their expired products, Raghupathy said. New rules will ensure that producers channelise ewaste to a registered refurbisher, dismantler or recycler.

Industry is divided on implementing these rules, said Ashwini Aggarwal of Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT). “It has proposed two models to implement EPR. Either some manufacturing brands form a body that manages finance and logistics associated with collection and recycling of e-waste or individual manufacturers use their own infrastructure to manage e-waste,” said Aggarwal. Currently, 18 e-waste recyclers, with an annual processing capacity of 45,000 tonnes, are registered.

An MAIT study said India produces 400,000 tonnes of e-waste each year and a key concern is that it is still battling to obtain legal recognition. For instance, Asif Pasha of E-Wardd, an informal dismantlers’ association in Karnataka, said E-Wardd took four years of training and fulfilling government mandates to register with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The proposed rules will ensure that producers, collection centres, dismantlers and recyclers obtain authorisation from the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) within 120 days.

Though the unorganised market will get organised, Raghupathy fears that limited human resources may lead to poor monitoring of authorised units by SPCBs.

A Down To Earth report showed a registered recycler selling e-waste to informal traders instead of processing it (see ‘Tricks of the e-waste trade’, Down To Earth, May 16-31, 2010).

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