E-waste disposal may soon be manufacturers’ headache
Environment Ministry Draft Spells Out Recycling Norms
Viju B | TNN
Mumbai: If notified, the Centre’s draft policy on the disposal of hazardous e-waste could well become a landmark law. In its draft rules, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has proposed that manufacturers and dealers of electrical and electronic products be made accountable for the ‘end-of-life’ disposal of the goods, once they become obsolete or are ready to be recycled.
Manufacturers will not only be made responsible for setting up collection centres to oversee the process, but have to also ensure that the hazardous products are handled by registered dismantlers or recyclers in order to control the possible damage to the environment and human health. According to a national survey conducted by an international NGO, India generates a whopping four lakh tonnes of hazardous e-waste from electronic products such as computers, television sets, etc every year.
The fact that almost all obsolete electronic items have components believed to be carcinogenic is something that cannot be ignored, said an MoEF official. While the draft policy does not deal with individual consumers, bulk clients like banks, MNCs and other big companies will now have to deposit their e-waste at authorized collection centres instead of selling them to local wholesale scrap shops.
‘‘Bulk consumer will also have to file annual returns on the quantity of the e-waste disposed. After Europe and the US, India is the first nation among developing countries to draft such a proposal,’’ the MoEF official said. Records of e-waste that have been handled will have to be maintained by all concerned parties.
While environmental agencies like Greenpeace and Toxics Link have hailed the move as a step in the right direction, activists have expressed concern over whether the draft policy will be notified in its entirety. ‘‘This draft rules will finally bring in some positive changes and will make the manufacturer, dealer and the consumer more accountable while disposing e-waste,’’ said Abhishek Pratap, an anti-toxic campaigner with Greenpeace. The MoEF had formed a core committee and had taken suggestions from various NGOs and experts to draft the rules, which they hope will be notified in around seven weeks, with ‘‘suitable amendments’’. Even if the MoEF’s proposals become the law — something that activists are actively campaigning for — many say that the government’s task won’t be easy in the face of stiff resistance from manufacturers and dealers. Officials in the ministry admitted that the efficacy of what has been proposed will also depend on a proactive approach from the industry.