E-Waste and laws for their disposal

Introduction

E-waste can be considered as a resource that contains useful material of economic benefit for recovery of plastics, iron, glass, aluminum, copper and precious metals such as silver, gold, platinum, and palladium and lead, cadmium, mercury etc. The e-waste includes all electrical and electronic equipment (like switches wires cables etc.) including their components and consumables, which are part of the product at the time of discarding or manufacturing or repair.

A. E-waste Management Rules

The E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011 (“Rules”) have been notified with primary objective to channelize the E-waste generated in the country for environmentally sound recycling. The E-waste Rules place main responsibility of e-waste management on the producers of the electrical and electronic equipment and also Extended Producer Responsibility on those beyond manufacturer.

B. Role of Collection Centre

The Rules provide for Collection centers, which are established either jointly or individually or as societies or associations to collect e-waste. These are Centres, which are authorized by State Pollution Control Board. The role of these bodies is to ensure that the waste is disposed off through authorized dismantler or recyclers. It is the duty of the consumers and bulk consumers mentioned in the Rules to ensure that e-waste duly channelized to the Collection Centers. If the e-waste is sold to the ordinary scrap dealer not authorized by the State Pollution Control Board, then it causes damage to the environment as they burn the plastic part, break the seal of the part that contain the gases and try to extract metals by process by which it pollutes the environment. Even the transportation of the E-waste from the collection center in one state to disposal centre in another state requires no objection Centre of the State Pollution Control Board. The reporting of the accidents at the site of Collection Centre, Producer of e-waste, dismantler or recycler to the State Pollution Control Board is mandatory.

C. Recent Judgment on E-Waste

In Nagrik Upbhokta Margdarshak Manch vs. State of MP & Ors.[1] the Tribunal has held the following:

  • That producers are required to achieve 100% collection and channelization at the end of the life of the equipment and for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of targets based on the life of the product, the type of the product depending upon the usage and consumption patters. This is applicable for all the three states including-MP, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh.
  • 10% of the advertising has to go in creating awareness to the consumers about the e-waste.
  • The definition of the term ‘Producer’ also came under the effective scanner of the Hon’ble Tribunal and the Central Pollution Control Board has been asked to give true meaning of the producer to State Pollution Control Board for effective implementation of the Rules
  • In Toxic Link vs. Union of India & Ors.[2] the Hon’ble Tribunal had ordered the strict implementation of the Rules throughout the country and the present petition gave direction to that effect as well.
  • The concerned states were required even to submit the action taken report on the Rules within 4 months of the receipt of the judgment.
  • The Producers who sell Electrical and Electronic equipment are required to submit necessary information with regard to collection centre, dismantling units, authorized recycler. The Producers are very much required to obtain necessary compliances under Rule 9 of the Rules, CPCB Guidelines for implementation of these Rules.

Conclusion

The Rules have put in place proper mechanism for safe disposal of e-waste, which was harmful to the human and other living organism. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), as per its guidelines made the State Pollution Control Boards as the nodal agencies to monitoring the disposal of e-waste. The mechanism is in operation since May 2012, he noted. Unfortunately, the producers or consumers make no serious efforts in this direction proactively. However, the judgment is also an eye opener for both consumers and producers in general to think that as India is growing in terms of its e-waste contribution, implementation of Rules therefore in letter and spirit is equally required to maintain the sustainability of environment.

 


[1] Original Application No. 143 of 2013

[2] Original Application 183 of 2014

Published :
September 2, 2015
Practice Area :