Starting next fiscal, consumers in India will be no more required to bother about managing their electronic and electrical equipment at the end of the lifecycle. The Centre is in the process of bringing out a legislation based on the draft proposals submitted by industry bodies and green campaigners including Greenpeace, which, for the first time will make the producers (manufacturers) responsible for the management of electronic waste (e-waste).
The new legislation which the government has agreed to approve by March 2010, will now make the 25-odd PC manufacturers and sellers who control about 75 per cent of the market share in the organised space, to implement takeback policy for their end-consumers and recycle the same in an environment-friendly manner. Besides, the unorganised players who hold about 25 per cent share in the PC market in India, will also have to comply the rule.
A brainchild of global environmental NGO Greenpeace, the draft proposals on e-waste management was formally approved by various stakeholders including the electronics good manufacturers, industry body Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT) and not-for-profit organisations including Toxics Link, GTZ and Greenpeace in an event held in Bangalore in April 2008.
“The government is currently in the process of developing a dedicated set of rules which would govern the management and handling of electronic waste. These will be put in the public domain for comments by March 2010,” Saroj, director, ministry of environment and forest.
The draft proposals, among other things, had suggested the government to bring out a separate legislation for e-waste management based on the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR). It had also underscored the need of introducing more green products by the manufacturers and put a ban on the import and export of e-waste. It is understood that the government has agreed to include everything in the legislation expect the ban on import and export of e-waste.
“We are very happy that the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has accepted our proposal for a separate legislation on e-waste by March next year. This will be for the first time that it will be the responsibility of the producers (manufacturers) to manage the e-waste in India. Besides, the manufacturers will also be forced to invest more on R&D to make a lot more greener products,” Ramapati Kumar, Lead Toxic Campaigner of Greenpeace told Business Standard.
According to the latest report issued by MAIT, India produces about 3,80,000 tonnes of e-waste per annum, which includes the waste generated out of television sets, mobile phones and PC. This, however, does not include other end-of-life electrical and electronic items such as washing machines and refrigerators.
Presently, some of the PC vendors including Wipro, HCL and HP have announced their e-waste take-back policy which is purely on voluntary basis. However, while the buyer used to pay a price for the recycling of the e-waste earlier, once the legislation comes into force it will be entirely borne by the producers.
E-waste is hazardous while processing due to its content of toxic substances such as lead, cadmium, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Due to the content of precious metals such as gold, silver, palladium, copper, people in informal sector who don’t have access to capital and technology, often recycle this thus putting their lives in danger and polluting the environment.