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India gets first e-waste management rules

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Putting the onus of of electronic wastes (e-waste) on the producers, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has for the first time notified e-waste management rules.

The e-waste (management and handling) Rules, 2011 would recognise the producers’ liability for recycling and reducing e-waste in the country. The rules will come into effect from May 1, 2012.

Personal Computer manufacturers, and white goods makers will be required to come up with e-waste collection centres or introduce ‘take back’ systems .

“These rules will apply to every producer, consumer and bulk consumer involved in manufacture, sale, purchase and processing of electronic equipment or components,” an environment ministry official said.

The ministry is giving the producers of electrical and electronic equipment a breathing period of one year to set up their collection centres.The rules will come under the Environment Protection Act (EPA).

India, at present, generates about 400,000 tonnes of e-wastes annually of which only 19,000 tonnes are getting recycled according to the recent data by hardware manufacturers association, Mait.

According to Mait, around 40 per cent of the unused and obsolete electronic products sit idle at homes, godowns and warehouses as one does not know what to do with it or there is no systematic mechanism to dispose it.

E-wastes are considered dangerous, as certain electronic components contain substances such as lead, cadmium, lead oxide (in cathode ray tubes), toxic gases, toxic metals, biologically active materials, acids, plastics and plastic additives. These substances are considered hazardous depending on their condition and density.

Under the new rules, producers will have to make consumers aware about the hazardous components present in the product. Also, instructions for consumers for handling the equipment after its use along with the do’s and don’t’s. They will also have to give information booklets to prevent e-waste from being dropped in garbage bins.

However, according to the rules, bulk consumers such as enterprises and government will be responsible for recycling of the e-wastes generated by them. The bulk users have to ensure that the e-waste generated by them is channelized to authorised collection centres or is taken back by the producers.

They also have to maintain records of e-wastes generated by them and make such records available with or the Pollution Control Committees.

The State Pollution Control Board will be required to prepare and submit to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) an annual report (based on the data received by consumers) with regard to implementation of these rules, by September 30 of every year.

On receiving which, the will have to prepare a consolidated annual review on management of e-waste and forward it to the government along with its recommendations by December 30 of every year.

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