Waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE or e-waste) is one of the largest growing waste streams in the world. The Combined Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of e-waste generation is estimated at 30%.
According to Global E-Waste Monitor 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste was produced in 2016. This is an equivalent of almost 4,500 Eiffel towers.
India is the fourth largest producing country of e-waste and generated nearly 2 million tonnes in 2016. Only 20% of the e-waste of global e-waste is recycled and in India less than 2% of e-waste is responsibly recycled through formal channels.
To tackle the issue of severe health and environmental impacts resulting from manual recycling operations, India came out with the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. An amendment to these rules resulted in E-waste (Management) Rule in 2016.
The 2016 rules were based on the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility and set clear targets for producers to fulfil their obligations. It is in these rules that provisions for a Producer Responsibility Organisation were first made.
Following another amendment in March 2018, PROs are now also required to get an authorisation from CPCB.
FAQs on E-Waste and the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016
E-waste is defined as “electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes”.
The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 supersede the E-Waste (Management & Handling) Rules of 2011. The rules came into effect in October 2017. As per the mandate, the rules apply to every “manufacturer, producer, consumer, bulk consumer, collection centres, dealers, e-retailer, refurbisher, dismantler and recycler involved in manufacture, sale, transfer, purchase, collection, storage and processing of e-waste or electrical and electronic equipment.”
The mandate lists down in detail responsibilities of various stakeholders involved with electronic products from its manufacturing stage to its recycling stage and thereafter.
Click here to Download The E-Waste (Management) Rules of 2016 issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.
Click here to Download Implementation Guidelines for E-Waste (Management) Rules 2016 issued by CPCB
According to the new Rules, ‘Producer’ means any person/entity who/which:
- manufactures and offers to sell electrical and electronic equipment and their components or consumables or parts or spares under its own brand; or
- offers to sell under its own brand, assembled electrical and electronic equipment and their components or consumables or parts or spares produced by other manufacturers or suppliers; or
- offers to sell imported electrical and electronic equipment and their components or consumables or parts or spares;
Therefore, even importers of EEE are now covered under the definition of ‘Producers’ which was not the case before.
The main responsibilities of Producers under the new Rule are to:
- Set up a system to implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) with proper means of collection, channelization and disposal of end-of-life e-waste in accordance with a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) approved EPR-Authorisation plan.
- Spread awareness regarding appropriate contact avenues (addresses, emails, telephone numbers, etc.) for information regarding proper handling of the e-waste, hazardous constituents, hazards of improper management and disposal of e-waste and means available to consumers for return and recycling of their e-waste.
The EPR- Authorisation plan should constitute of a collection scheme of the e-waste placed on the market, through means such as ‘buy-back arrangements, exchange schemes, Deposit Refund System, etc’ and direct it, whether directly or through authorised agencies (such as Producer Responsibility Organisations) to registered recyclers.
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in severe penalisation. Under Chapter III, Section 13(iv), “in the event of refusal of Extended Producer Responsibility - Authorisation by the Central Pollution Control Board, the producer will forfeit his right to put any Electrical and Electronic Equipment in the market till such time the Extended Producer Responsibility - Authorisation is granted.”
In addition to this, Section 7 of Chapter II states that “Operation without Extended Producer Responsibility-Authorisation by any producer… shall be considered as causing damage to the environment”. This is in direct violation of Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The penalty for such a contravention is imprisonment for up to five years (can be extended to seven years in case of continued contravention) and heavy fines.
The Rules define EPR as “responsibility of any producer of electrical or electronic equipment, for channelisation of e-waste to ensure environmentally sound management of such waste.”
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy through which a producer is made responsible for the entire life-cycle of a product, particularly at its end of life. This could be done through an efficient and sustainable method of reuse, recycling or any other means that ensure maximum utilisation of a product and minimum detrimental impact on the environment.
The EPR strategy is considered particularly useful in the case of E-waste management. While on one hand, governments have partnered with an external organisation that helps in the collection, management and recycle of E-waste, on the other hand several laws have been formulated incorporating EPR strategy in it.
In the United States, 23 state governments have come up with laws on E-waste management, incorporating EPR in them. Similar laws also exist in the European Union and China.
It was in the 1990s that the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility started being talked about in academic circles. The Swedish academic, Thomas Lindhqvist first mentioned this concept that became revolutionary in the way governments around the world looked at product manufacturing.
The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 define a PRO as follows: ‘Producer Responsibility Organisation’ means a professional organisation authorised or financed collectively or individually by producers, which can take the responsibility for collection and channelisation of e-waste generated from the ‘end-of-life’ of their products to ensure environmentally sound management of such e-waste.’
A PRO typically provides the following services:
- Establishing and operating collection points
- Holding awareness workshops for related stakeholders
- Pick up and transport of the waste products to the recycling and treatment facilities
- Organising the treatment and reporting the results to the authorities
The PROs further contracts with collection site providers (municipalities, retailers and waste management businesses for B2B and/or B2C products), recyclers and logistics partners to carry out the EPR functions.
There are two types of EPR models available to producers:
- Collective Producer Responsibility(CPR): In a CPR, producers cover their responsibilities via Producer Responsibility Organizations (PRO) which facilitate the collective handling of the waste
- Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR): In an IPR, Producers are responsible for the end-of-life management of their own respective products and have to set up appropriate EPR systems.
CPR vs. IPR systems
|Key Area||Individual Producer Responsibility||Collective Producer Responsibility|
|Collection and Storage||More resource intensive||Less resource intensive. The PRO coordinates all the collection and channelization of the e-waste.|
|Reporting and Monitoring||Each producer is responsible for their own reporting on collection and monitoring of the e-waste of their respective brands.||PRO takes care of end to end reporting and monitoring for member brands, manufacturers and prepares reports for EPR compliance|
|Awareness & Capacity||Each producer has to deal with their own set of vendors and recyclers||A PRO can organize common awareness and capacity building sessions for all the brands of e-waste. All personnel and staff dealing with Operations can be trained together.|
|Recycling||Each producer has to deal with their own set of vendors and recyclers||The PRO chooses the recyclers based on the best practices and standards and is responsible for the auditing and reporting with the recyclers.|