The MAIT-GTZ study on e-waste found that 94 per cent of the organisations studied did not have any policy on disposal of obsolete IT products. Though many respondents (200 corporates and 400 households) were aware of e-waste, they were lacking in action.
Vinnie Mehta, executive director of the MAIT, in his presentation at National Conference on EWaste Management (an Indo-German-Swiss E-Waste Initiative), listed the following legislations that cover different aspects of e-waste:
- The hazardous waste (management and handling) rules, 1998 as amended in 2008 for toxic content—registration mandatory for recyclers
- Municipal solid waste management and handling rules for non-toxic content
- Basel convention for regulating trans-boundary movement
- Foreign trade policy, which restricts import of second-hand computers and does not permit import of e-waste
- Guidelines by Central Pollution Control Board (2008)
The guidelines notified in April 2008 identify and recognise:
- Producers’ responsibility
- RoHS (restriction on hazardous substances)
- Best practices
- Insight into technologies for various levels of recycling
Mehta said that the guidelines explicitly mention the need for a separate legislation for implementing producers’ responsibility. He said that e-waste is ‘distinct’ as it is an end-of-consumption waste while hazardous waste results from a distinct industrial process. The Environment Protection Act provides for separate regulations for waste with ‘distinct’ characteristics—Biomedical Wastes (M&H) Rules 1998, Batteries (M&H) Rules 2001, etc.
Advocating a separate legislation for e-waste, he said that in his recent presentation to members of the parliament he has emphasised that e-waste value chain is rather complex as it involves multiple players—producers, distributors, retailers, end consumers, collection system and recyclers—while hazardous waste chain involves only the occupier/generator and the operator. Recovery of non-ferrous metals and reprocessing of used oil are the only two major activities in hazardous waste recycling, while e-waste recycling involves refurbishment for reuse, dismantling and precious metal recovery, which is a complex process.
[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Structure of the Proposed e-Waste Legislations”]
Title: E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules to be published under the Environment Protection Act
Objective: To put in place an effective mechanism to regulate the generation, collection, storage, transportation, import, export, environmentally sound recycling, treatment and disposal of e-waste. This includes refurbishment, collection system and producer’s responsibility, thereby reducing the wastes destined for final disposal.
Essence: The producer of electrical and electronic equipment is responsible for the entire life cycle of its own branded product and in particular the environmentally sound end-of-life management and facilitating collection and take back.
Responsibility of each element in the e-waste value chain:
- Collection agencies/collection Centres
- Consumer and bulk consumers
Procedure for authorisation of producers, collection agencies, dismantlers, recyclers and enforcement agencies
Procedure for registration/renewal of registration of recyclers
Regulations for import of e-waste
Liability of producers, collection agencies, transporters, dismantlers and recyclers
Information & tracking
Elimination of hazardous substances used in e-equipment
Setting up of designated authority to ensure transparency, audit and inspect facilities, examine authorisation/registration, etc[/stextbox]
e-nam (EWA Newsletter for Awareness and Management) in its September 2008 issue has brought out the latest activities of EWA, MAIT-GTZ and others involved in the e-waste field. It has published extracts of an article titled ‘Progress on e-waste, but Too Slow’ by Mini Josheph Tejaswi. The statements of various experts quoted in the article are reproduced below:
Lakshmi Raghupathy, former director in the ministry of environment and forest and an expert in ewaste management, said that governmental regulations should make the producers solely responsible for the entire life-cycle—from manufacturing to recycling—of their products.
Nitin Gupta, CEO of Attero Recycling, said enterprises should be extremely careful and responsible while throwing their unwanted computers and storage devices.
Computer manufacturers in India are slowly getting active in ewaste management. “We are working with all stakeholders in the ewaste management eco-system,” said S. Shankar, director (manufacturing and supply chain) in HP. The company has initiated a three-pronged strategy: partner with e-waste recyclers, build awareness among individual/enterprise customers and work with NGOs, recyclers, collectors and dismantlers.
Anne Cheong, senior service specialist in Dell, said each manufacturer has an individual producer responsibility. “We start from home. We have proper recycling facility in all countries including India. We are exploring that in Karnataka as well.”
Though companies claim they are taking action, many don’t believe enough is being done. “Things are very slow. Corporates are yet to understand the importance of it,” said Wilma Rodrigues, founder member of Saahas, a development organisation. Decisions related to ewaste management, she said, are still taken by junior employees in organisations, with top executives not even looking at it. Almost every company has some mention on its website on ewaste management, but very few are doing anything. The country has twelve authorised e-waste recyclers including e-Parisara and Ash in Bangalore, Tessam in Chennai and Eco-Reco in Mumbai. Ramky Group is setting up the country’s largest integrated ewaste management facility in Bangalore in collaboration with GTZ, while Attero is building an integrated e-waste recycling plant in Utter Pradesh.
D.C. Sharma, vice president of Ramky Enviro Engineers, cautioned that no player should indulge in cherry-picking, collect whatever one thinks is worth and leave the hazardous portions out. Ramky is also building a transfer storage disposal facility (landfill) for hazardous waste at Dobbespet on Tumkur Road.
Finally, through improved ewaste management in the major Indian cities, the e-waste initiatives taken in the country will achieve better environ-mental conditions. Moreover, health conditions of workers active in the e-waste recycling sector will enormously improve at the local level. As an overall effect, the living conditions for the neighbouring population will be better. The already existing schemes of e-waste recycling and material recovery, mainly in the informal sector, will be transformed to transparent and workers- and environment-friendly methods. In the long term, the problem of improper e-waste recycling will disappear due to improved methods, implementation of a take-back system and consideration of the extended producer’s responsibility.
Experience exchange on national and international levels, including know-how transfer, is being facilitated through the various initiatives. Thus, a dialogue platform for Indian and European e-waste experts has been created, opening the doors for future industries to be developed and cooperation activities to be per-formed for technology and knowledge transfer.