Recent amendments to the E-waste management rules adequately address the problem of e-waste management?

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Question – E-waste is an inevitable evil in India due to the digital revolution. Do you think that the recent amendments to the E-waste management rules adequately address the problem of e-waste management? 3 March 2022

AnswerEven today we have not been free from the corona epidemic, but from now on, the concern of another epidemic is increasing in the future. Environmentalists have already warned that if e-waste and medical waste enters the environment from homes, hospitals, the consequences will be dire and will last for centuries. The National Commission for Rights and Protection of Child had warned on the basis of a study that if the dangerous side of e-waste is not taken care of in time, then in the coming times millions of children will be in the grip of cancer or other such dangerous diseases.

E-waste is an abbreviation for electronic-waste, and the term is used to describe obsolete electronic equipment. This includes their components, consumables and parts.

As the demand for electronic products is increasing all over the world, electronic waste is also increasing along with it. The E-Waste Report 2020-21 states that in the year 2019, 53.6 million metric ton of waste was generated, which has increased by 21 percent in the last 5 years. It is estimated that by 2030, the production of electronic waste will reach 74 million metric tons. E-waste also includes items that have expired, such as TVs, fridges, coolers, ACs, monitors, computers, calculators, mobiles, parts of electronic machines, etc.

It is noteworthy that exposure to chemicals emitted during the recycling of unsafe e-waste can cause damage to the nervous system, blood system, kidney and brain disorders, respiratory disorders, skin disorders, swelling of the throat, lung cancer and heart etc.

The law for the management of e-waste in India has been in force since the year 2011, which mandates that e-waste is collected only by authorized decomposers and recyclers. For this, the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 was enacted in the year 2017.

Some of the salient features of the E-Waste Management Amendment Rules 2018:

  • The newly fixed targets for e-waste collection will be considered effective from 1st October, 2017. The target for collection of e-waste in different phases will be 10 per cent by weight of waste generated during 2017-18, which will increase by 10 per cent per annum till 2023. After 2023, this target will be 70 percent of the total waste generated.
  • If the years of sales operation of a producer will be less than the average age of its products, then separate targets for e-waste collection will be set for such new e-producers.
  • The average life of the products shall be as determined by the Central Pollution Control Board from time to time.
  • The government will bear the cost of testing such products under the RoHs in terms of harmful substances, if the products do not conform to the rules of RoH, then the cost of testing will have to be borne by the manufacturer.
  • Producer accountability organizations will have to apply to the Central Pollution Control Board to get them registered to operate under the new rules.
  • The E-Waste Management Rules 2016 has been amended vide notification GSR 261(E) dated 22nd March, 2018.

The rules have come at an opportune time, as this has helped in clarifying confusion on the targets for this financial year for producers and a key inclusion in the amendment is that the PROs are now required to register with CPCB under the new Rules.

The amount of e-waste being generated in India is increasing rapidly. With the increasing dependence on electronic and electrical equipment, the e-waste generation in the country is expected to increase. However, the management of the same is a major challenge before the country. Indians are yet to realize the links between the causes of e-waste generation and its impacts including harmful health and environmental impacts.

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