From now on, manufacturers of electrical and electronic items will have to set up "collection centres" to take back the e-waste generated through their products. Manufacturers will also have to ensure that the e-waste, including hazardous electronic parts, thus collected is properly recycled, say the environment ministry's new rules announced on Wednesday.
The existing e-waste management rules, instituted in 2011, had bound manufacturers by extended producer responsibility (EPR) to channelise the hazardous e-waste to registered recyclers. But, the lack of clarity on who was responsible for collecting such waste led to loose implementation of EPR rules.
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Separate authorisation letters from the respective State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs), which were necessary for setting up such collection centres earlier, have now been done away with. The complicated process, which had been cited by manufacturers as an excuse for low compliance, has now given way to a collection mechanism that also allows buying back waste from consumers.
Manufacturers have also been asked to submit detailed EPR plans whereby 30 per cent of the waste generated by them have to be collected back during the first two years, followed by 40 per cent in the third and fourth years and so on, to 70 per cent during the seventh year onwards.
Ravi Agarwal, director at Toxics Link, a non-profit organisation working against toxic pollutants in pharmaceutical, chemical and e-wastes, said: "The new rules have plugged a number of loopholes by addressing the specific responsibilities of various stakeholders. But, implementation will be key."
The new rules say dealer or retailers "shall refund the amount as per take-back system or deposit refund scheme of the producer to the depositor of e-waste". Refurbishers, on the other hand, have been mandated to channelise the waste thus collected to an authorised recycler.
However, the onus of monitoring the excercise could further burden SPCBs. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said a provision of penalty for violation of rules has been introduced.
States have also been brought into the picture with the rules authorising industry departments to ensure space is allocated for recycling plants.
Besides, state labour departments have been asked to register workers involved in dismantling and recycling at such facilities. This is to ensure the safety of these workers by monitoring their health.