In November 2022, the Ministry of Environment and Forests further notified a new set of e-waste rules, which will come into force from April 1, 2023. These rules address some of the critical issues but are silent on others.


Genesis of E-waste Rules

  • The first set of e-waste Rules was notified in 2011 and came into effect in 2012 with the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as one of its important components. Under EPR compliance, ‘producers’ are responsible for the safe disposal of electronic and electric products once the consumer discards them.
  • Thereafter, E-waste rules 2016, amended in 2018, were comprehensive and included provisions to promote ‘authorisation’ and ‘product stewardship’.
      • Product Stewardship signifies whoever designs, produces, sells, or uses a product takes responsibility for its environmental impact throughout all stages of the products’ life cycle, including end of life management.
      • Other categories of stakeholders such as the ‘Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO) were also introduced in these rules.
  • The above rules placed importance on seeking authorisation by stakeholders, but a weak monitoring system and a lack of transparency resulted in inadequacy in compliance.
      • Also, most of the ‘refurbishers’ or the ‘repair shops’ operating in Delhi are not authorised under the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India.
      • Further, many formal recyclers undertake activities only up to the pre-processing or segregation stage, and thereafter channelize e-waste to the informal sector, rendering a pure violation of law.
  • A new set of e-waste rules, were further notified in 2022, which will come into force from 1st April, 2023.
      • These rules highlight the EPR for e-waste management framework for those dealing in the sale, manufacture, purchase, transfer, dismantling, refurbishing, processing or recycling of e-waste including their parts and components.
      • However, these shall not apply to waste batteries, packaging plastics, micro-enterprises and radioactive wastes


Key highlights of New e-waste management rules 2022

  • Registration of stakeholders — Entities like manufacturer, producer, recycler, refurbisher shall be required to apply for EPR registration. Further, these entities are not allowed to deal with unregistered manufacturers, producers, recyclers and refurbishers.
  • Applicability — The products on which e-waste management rules apply can be bifurcated into two categories as follows —
      • Consumer Electricals and Electronics
      • IT and Telecommunication Equipment
  • Storage of E-waste — Any manufacturer, producer, recycler or refurbisher can store the e-waste only for a period of up to 180 days are required to maintain the record of its sale, transfer or storage. The CPCB has the power to extend storage period up to 365 days specifically for recycling or reuse of e-waste.
  • Reduction in use of Hazardous Substances — The producers of e-waste have to specify proportions of hazardous substances in their new products. Examples of hazardous substances include Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Polybrominated Biphenyls and Hexavalent Chromium, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers.
  • Digitalised systems approach — The EPR obligations shall be discharged by producers through the online purchase of certificates from registered recyclers.
      • Standardising the e-waste value chain through a common digital ‘portal’ may ensure transparency.
      • It is also crucial to reduce the frequency of ‘paper trading’ or ‘false trail’, i.e., a practice of falsely revealing 100% collection on paper while collecting and/or weighing ‘scrap’ to meet targets.


Shortcomings in the new rules

  • Two important stages of ‘efficient’ e-waste recycling are as follows —
      • Component recovery — It means adequate and efficient recoveries of rare earth metals in order to reduce dependence on virgin resources.
      • Residual disposal — It indicates safe disposal of the leftover ‘residual’ during e-waste recycling.
      • However, the rules do not clearly state the requirement for ensuring the ‘recovery tangent’.
  • The new notification also does away with dismantlers and vests all the responsibility of recycling with authorised recyclers, only a handful of which exist in India.
      • Thus, these recyclers will have to collect a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate digital certificates through the portal, that may cause initial turbulence, where the informal channels may try and seek benefits from.
  • The PROs are also being dismantled, which till now acted as an intermediary between producers and formal recyclers by bidding for contracts from producers and arranging for ‘certified and authorised’ recycling.
      • Fresh challenges hence might emerge as companies will no longer be required to engage with PROs and dismantlers, who partially ensured ‘double verification’ in terms of quantity and quality of recycling.
  • The new rules are also myopic as the informal sector, which plays a crucial role in e-waste handling, draws no recognition in these.
      • It is concerning as informal sector is the ‘face’ of e-waste disposal in India as 95% of e-waste is channelized to this sector.
  • Many producers in Delhi have still not set up collection centres and some brands have labelled their head office (located on the outskirts of Delhi) as the ‘only’ collection point.
  • Similarly, formal companies, low in number and clustered in the metropolises, also fail to provide doorstep collection to consumers when the quantum of e-waste is not enough to meet their overhead expenses or transport.
  • On the other hand, consumers lack awareness and information about the existence of any such services.


Way forward

  • In order to ensure maximum efficiency, the activities of the recyclers must be recorded in the system and the authorities should periodically trace the quantity of e-waste that went for recycling vis-à-vis the ‘recovery’ towards the end.
  • The intermediate stages in hierarchical process of e-waste handling should be strategically utilised for better collection of e-waste as it does not involve any hazardous practices. These intermediate stages include collection of mixed waste, segregation of e-waste, clustered accumulation of e-waste according to their type, etc.
  • The e-waste handling should also inculcate best practices to incorporate informal sector in an organised e-waste network.
      • For instance, ‘Karo Sambhav’, a Delhi-based PRO, has integrated informal aggregators in its collection mechanism.
      • Through this initiative, e-waste is entered in a safe and structured system and the informal sector also has an advantage in terms of financial and legal security.
  • In order to ensure the efficient implementation of the law, stakeholders must have the right information and intent to safely dispose e-waste.



Thus, simultaneous and consistent efforts are needed towards increasing consumer awareness, strengthening reverse logistics, building capacity of stakeholders, etc. Also, improving existing infrastructure, enhancing product designing, rationalising input control by defining ‘rare earth elements’ as ‘critical raw materials’, and adopting green procurement practices is the need of the hour.


SourceThe Hindu


QUESTION – What are the newly notified e-waste management rules, 2022? Analyse them and suggest how they can improve further to tackle the burgeoning problem of e-waste generation in India.