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Electronic companies and pollution boards flout e-waste rules: Report

Source : Times of India, New Delhi, 1 July 2014

Url : Electronic companies and pollution boards flout e-waste rules: Report

Most reputed electronic and electrical equipment companies—both Indian and multinational have failed grossly in fulfilling their responsibilities under extended producer responsibility (EPR) as defined under the e-waste management rules 2011, according to a report released by Toxics Link, an environmental NGO recently. The report titled "Time to Reboot" names and shames 50 well-known electronics including mobile phone, laptop, electronics, camera brands for not taking back their products after 'end of life' or after they turn into e waste, not having enough collection centers and other drawbacks.

The report also exposes the state pollution control boards that have not been carrying out their functions of taking inventory of e-waste manufacturing units, ensuring storage facility for e-waste, authorizing e-waste recycling plants and laying out a procedure for storage of e-waste. Andhra Pradesh (4268.42 MT) and West Bengal (34,124 MT) were the highest e-waste generating states in 2011-12, the study found.

Out of 50 companies examined in the study, as many as 16 fared very poorly. They got extremely poor, in most cases a zero in the four categories they were assessed for: sufficiency of information on website on disposing end of life products, ease of accessibility to information, take back system, number of collection points and information on take back policy with customer care or the helpline provided. Around 15 of them were in the "not so good" category where some of them had take back policies and information but none of them had collection points. Only 7 brands which include-- Canon India, Intex Technologies, Lenovo, Nokia, Onida, Panasonic, Sansui India were found to be in the "good" category.

Toxics Link filed RTI queries to check progress of pollution control boards in dealing with e-waste and found that only 7 out of 28 states and 6 UTs have made inventories of e-waste generating units, 4 states have partially done it. More than 19 states have no infrastructure to deal with e-waste. Delhi has the highest number of authorised producers (EEE). About 22 producers have sought authorisation till July 2013 and 17 producers have been granted permission in Delhi. Delhi Pollution Control Committee has also given notices to 13 producers for violating e-waste rules 2011.

"The take back mechanism - which is a system to collect e-waste from the consumers, is blatantly ignored by a number of companies; one third of the brands assessed had no take back mechanism at all, and more than half of them did not provide any information on physical collection points," said Priti Mahesh, Chief Programme Coordinator, Toxics Link. 46 of the 50 brands included in the study had less than 100 collections points across the nation. This is woefully inadequate for the amount of e-waste generated in India, the study said.

"We hope the scathing findings of the report serve as an eye opener to the top management of companies and senior officials of pollution control boards." says Ravi Agarwal, Director, Toxics Link.

India is currently generating about 2.7 million tons of e-waste annually and a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report suggests it will go up 500 times by 2030. "The apprehension arising is not of volumes alone, but also of the nature of toxicity associated. E-waste contains a variety of toxic chemicals, metals and materials such as mercury, lead and brominated flame retardants, known to cause major health and environmental damage," says Toxics Link's statement.

The report also found a gap in e-waste compliance in India and the rest of the world. "Most top companies have a global policy on waste management and demonstrate responsible behavior by setting up efficient systems in most parts of the world. In India, however, the same companies follow a totally different yardstick, which leaves much to be desired," says Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link.

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