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E-waste rules, more is required: Experts
June 5, 2012: Delhi-based Toxic Links, a key campaigner for sound management of E-waste said without monitoring and or evaluation mechanisms in place, nothing is going to change in the coming days.
Managing electronic waste, (E-waste) such as old computers, CDs, television sets, mobiles, etc, is the one of the many environmental concerns of India, today. The E-waste Management and Handling Rules, notified last year by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), came into force from 1 May 2012. While by ministry's estimation, based on the survey carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), e-waste is expected to increase to about 8.00 lakh metric tonnes (MT) by 2012 from 1.47 lakh MT in 2005. Experts feel that more needs to done on the ground.
Delhi-based Toxic Links, in a release, said, "The absence of a detailed guidelines to support implementation could also be a bottleneck in implementation of these rules and requires immediate finalization and adoption by all state pollution control boards. The material is still freely flowing to the informal sector and their operations are running without hindrance. It is unlikely to change much in coming days as there are no monitoring or evaluation mechanisms currently in place from the regulators side." Toxics Link has been a key campaigner for the policy and sound management of E-waste.
The E-waste rules, talk about the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) where it mandatory for manufacturers of electronic and electrical equipments to collect of e-waste generated from the end of life of their products by setting up collection centres or take back systems either individually or collectively.
Satish Sinha, associate director, Toxics Link, says, "The brand may just get away by setting up only a symbolic collection system, as the rules do not specify the number of collection points or amount of collection. In a vast country like India where you need to reach out to urban as well as rural population, their "token action" will change nothing on ground. The brands have not announced any financial mechanism or incentives for the consumers to attract them to the new eco-friendly system."
However, Greenpeace feels that EPR is the only solution in managing E-waste. "Unless the producers are held liable, it is very difficult to manage the E-waste problem. One has to also look at the fact that there are toxic chemical used while manufacturing such material. Hence disposing them openly can be hazardous. EPR is the correct solution," explained Abhishek Pratap, senior climate campaigner, Greenpeace India.
According to the rules, collection centres are required to obtain authorization from the state pollution control board (SPCB) concerned within three months from the date of commencement of the rules. Similarly, dismantlers and recyclers are required to obtain authorization and registration from the SPCB concerned. E-waste generated is required to be sent to authorized and registered recyclers for environmentally sound disposal.
Collection of E-waste in India is largely done through scrap dealers. Hence monitoring is a huge task. Mr Pratap says, "There were deliberations on this particular issue. Many felt that the implementation of these rules will affect the employability of the scrap dealers. However, we feel that even they should come within the system. Only 5%-7% of the E-waste is collected in India. Scrap dealers are the best source to collect them."