Friday, October 3, 2008


Manufacturers Want Exclusive e-Waste Rules

In a bid to draw the attention of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for a separate set of laws for e-waste management, within the Environment Protection Act, manufacturing organizations across industries are drafting a proposal.

The proposal will be submitted to the ministry in the next two months. The organizations that include MAIT, Indian Cellular Association (ICA), Telecom Equipment Manufacturer's Association (TEMA), Electronic Industries Association of India (ELCINA), Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA), are currently finalizing the draft.

As of now there is no law on e-waste management. Also government endorsed system for collection, recycling, and disposal of e-waste is absent. According to Ramapathy of Greenpeace, though manufacturers are trying to implement take-back schemes, they have not yet taken off in India. The reason for this according to Satish Sinha, associate director Toxics Link, a NGO, is that both corporate and personal users want incentives before availing take-back schemes and collection routes.

"Even if we install collection boxes, they are scavenged and valuable parts of the equipment are stolen," said Pranshu Singhal, environment manager for Nokia. A structured approach towards e-waste collection and recycling is needed.

Not that the government has not done anything. Infact, earlier 2008, the MoEF and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) released a comprehensive set of guidelines on e-waste management. The document asks manufacturers to follow RoHS compliance, and extended producer responsibility (EPR) for shared accountability.

Vinnie Mehta, executive director of MAIT in an exclusive chat with CXOtoday said, "The EPA has rules and regulations for different verticals. Even though there is a rule for handling hazardous byproducts, e-waste does not fall under this category. The reason being it is an end-of-lifecycle produce and there are no distinct rules for managing it."

"To ensure a working system for e-waste management across India, and also participation by manufacturers and corporate organizations, proper laws are needed. This is the rationale behind our initiative."

Lack of awareness is the root cause for the sorry state of e-waste management in India and MAIT is hoping to remedy this by spreading awareness at the grassroot level with the help of NGOs. It is also working with CII to spread awareness among the corporates.
Mehta said, "Corporate organizations want to work with known operators. As of today such government approved operators in India is very few."

Another problem that needs to be addressed is the illegal or quasi-legal entry of e-waste into the country. "Our laws do not permit the entry of second hand electronic goods. They are not even properly implemented. The government needs to setup a system to monitor various ports to restrict the illegal entry of e-waste," said Mehta. Seconding this, Sinha said the government refuses to acknowledge the existence of illegal e-waste imports, and unless it changes this attitude nothing much can be done.

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