Report on e-waste management places 5 companies in the red

Toxic Link assesses companies on extended producer responsibility over handling and recycling e-waste  

By Sudeshna Mallick
Published: Thursday 21 February 2019
Representational Photo: Getty Images

Toxic Link, an environmental research and advocacy organisation, came out with a report which placed five out of 54 major electric and electronic companies in the poor category over implementing extended producer responsibility (ERP).  

ERP is a mechanism through which producers are made responsible for handling and recycling end-of-life products. The report titled ‘Time to Reboot III’, released on February 21, 2019, categorised the companies using four colours — red, yellow, blue and green — red implying worst implementation and green implying an efficient take-back system.

The five companies placed in the red category lacked commitment towards setting up an e-management system and accessible information service for consumers on the take-back system, according to the report. 

“We are really disappointed to see that the companies are still reluctant to set up effective take-back systems. Helplines with no information and so many non-functional collection centres are clear indications that companies are not making any serious efforts,” said Priti Mahesh, chief coordinator, Toxic Link.

In 2011, India notified the e-waste (management and handling) rules under which the main responsibility for e-waste management was placed on the producers of electrical and electronic equipment, through the EPR.  

As per the report, no substantive changes have taken place on ground as companies are not taking responsibility to dispose e-waste. Twenty-nine out of 54 brands were placed in below average category (yellow), with a majority being cell phone companies.

These companies have take-back systems but only on paper and failed to provide information and services on collection centres, says the report.

However, the overall scenario has improved compared to 2014, when a report by Toxic Link placed 18 companies out of 50 in the red category.

To evaluate EPR for companies, Toxic Link used several criteria, including take-back policy, compliance with Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), e-waste collection target achieved, consumer awareness, ground collection system and information provided by the company representatives.

Thirteen brands were given an average rating — placed under the blue category — implying that these companies are making efforts towards a better take-back mechanism.

These companies have tied up with authorised recyclers and have authorisation from the Central Pollution Control Board. Most of the new entrant brands were under the green category — these seven companies excelled in all the criteria chosen to assess EPR.

“There is a need to strengthen regulatory bodies and improve monitoring and enforcement. Companies with no take-back system on ground should not be allowed to sell within the country,” said Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxic Link.

The report indicates the lack of awareness regarding e-waste management in India, and it emphasises the importance of media in reaching out to people to provide relevant information about management, disposal and consumption of electrical and electronic media.

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