With its ever-expanding demand and supply for electronic goods, India has a huge problem with the rising level of e-waste generation.
Not only is the country a victim of indigenously produced electronic waste, but according to a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) last year, besides other Asian and African countries, India is also a dump yard of the estimated 40 million tonnes of electronic waste produced every year.
In an effort to tackle this hazard, which many environmentalists describe as a ‘toxic time bomb’, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has revised rules to collect, dispose and recycle all electronic and electrical waste by simplifying the mechanism through one pan India system of authorization, replacing the multiple state wise authorization.
Under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), manufacturers have to ensure that collection of e-waste, as well as its disposal, is conducted in an environmentally sound manner. It has also brought in Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury-containing lamps, into the purview of electronic waste.
The new norms have introduced greater involvement of states in policing by ensuring that states earmark industrial space or shed for e-waste dismantling and recycling in the existing and upcoming industrial park, estate and industrial clusters.
State governments are also supposed to ensure recognition and registration of workers involved in waste management work and undertake annual monitoring and ensure their safety and health.
India generates 17 lakh tonnes of e-waste every year and with an annual increase of 5%, the new norms are set to bring in the much-needed change in the way we handle and dispose the waste we generate. However, the challenge will be in the effective implementation of these rules, as the previous revision of this regulation that were notified in 2011 and came into effect in 2012, did not bring in the anticipated transformation as most manufacturers in India do not have a tangible recycling programme in place.
The government, however, is positive about its administration and declared that if the manufacturers or producers fail to adhere to their roles, they will be financially penalised as per the amount specified by the state governments.
“The norms have been made more stringent and reflect the government’s commitment to environmental governance,” Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar has assured.
The date of the rules and details of the fines would be announced later this year after discussions with states, he said.