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Unpacking the new set of e-waste rules

GS Paper 3

 

Syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

 Source: TH

 Context: In a time of increased urbanisation, digitalisation and population growth, the problem of managing e-waste is an ongoing challenge.

 

Background:

  • The first set of e-waste Rules (2011) introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – which made ‘producers’ responsible for the safe disposal of e-waste once the consumer discards them.
  • E-waste rules 2016 (amended in 2018) included provisions to promote ‘authorisation’ and ‘product stewardship’, stakeholders such as the ‘Producer Responsibility Organisations’ (PRO) were also introduced in these rules.
    • PROs acted as an intermediary between producers (bidding for contracts) and formal recyclers (arranging for ‘certified and authorised’ recycling).
  • The MoEFCC notified a new set of e-waste rules – E-Waste (Management) Rules 2022.

 

Key provisions of the E-Waste (Management) Rules 2022:

  • Unlike the earlier rules (seeking authorisation by stakeholders), the new rules provide for the ‘Registration of Stakeholders’ (manufacturer/producer/refurbisher/recycler).
  • A ‘digitalised systems approach’ may now standardise the e-waste value chain through a common digital ‘portal’.
  • The above provisions will reduce the frequency of ‘false trail’ – falsely revealing 100% collection on paper while collecting/weighing ‘scrap’ to meet targets.

 

Issues with the 2022 rules:

  • Weak monitoring system and a lack of transparency. For example, many recyclers undertake activities only up to the pre-processing/segregation stage and channelise e-waste to the informal sector, which is a pure violation of the law.
  • Two important stages of efficient e-waste recycling – component recovery and residual disposal – are briefly touched upon.
  • It does away with PRO and dismantlers and vests all the responsibility of recycling with authorised recyclers.
  • The informal sector, which plays a crucial role (95% of e-waste is channelised) in e-waste handling, draws no recognition in the new rules.

 

Way ahead:

  • Ensuring the requirement of the recovery tangent.
  • The activities of the recyclers must be recorded → tracing the quantity of e-waste that went for recycling.
  • A robust collection and recycling system on the ground.
  • Stakeholders must have the right information and intent to safely dispose of e-waste.
  • There is a need for increased consumer awareness, strengthening reverse logistics, building capacity, improving existing infrastructure, adopting green procurement practices, etc.

 

Best practice:

  • ‘Karo Sambhav’, a Delhi-based PRO, has integrated informal aggregators in its collection mechanism → e-waste entered a safe and structured system → informal sector has an advantage in terms of financial and legal security.
  • IIT Hyderabad launched M.Tech courses in e-Waste Resources.

 

Insta Links:

Government notified E-waste (management) rules 2022

 

Mains Link:

What are the impediments in disposing of the huge quantities of discarded solid wastes which are continuously being generated? How do we safely remove the toxic wastes that have been accumulating in our habitable environment? (UPSC 2018)

 

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2019)

In India, ‘extend producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?

      1. The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998
      2. The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999
      3. The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011
      4. The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

 

Ans: 3