About the Draft E-waste Management Rules, 2022: Right intent, confusing content

Source: The post is based on the article “Right intent, confusing content” published in “The Hindu” on 5th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environmental pollution and degradation.

Relevance: To understand the challenges associated with the Draft E-waste Management Rules, 2022.

News: This year marks a decade since the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules came into effect in India. The Rules have been amended a few times since. The most recent amendment is the Draft E-waste Management Rules, 2022.

What are the salient provisions of Draft E-waste Management Rules, 2022?
Read here: Draft Notification for Electronic Waste (E-Waste) Management
What are the advantages of the draft E-waste rules?

The rules propose a) expanding the definition of e-waste, b) more clearly specifying the penalties for violation of rules, c) introducing an environmental compensation fund based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, and d) recognising the informal waste workers.

Read more: New opportunities for e-waste recyclers
What are the challenges associated with the draft E-waste rules?

First, large-scale recycling of e-waste is still in its infancy in India. Most of the recycling of valuable material is carried out within the informal sector using inefficient and unsafe technologies. Considering this, the target to recycle 60% of the e-waste generated in 2022-23 appears too optimistic.

Second, the government has to focus on existing formal and informal players if it wants to create better recycling facilities. But the draft rules are silent on regulating registered collectors, dismantlers, and producer responsibility organisations.

Third, the informal sector accounts for a vast majority of e-waste processed in India. Most e-waste policy debates have centred around the integration of the informal sector into the formal systems.

But the proposed regulations place the responsibility of such integration on the State governments without specifying what the incentives are for them to do this.

Fourth, based on European experience, the regulators face more difficulties in monitoring and enforcing recycling targets than the collection targets. But the present draft is silent on whether the rules will apply to the aggregate weight of e-waste or to every component of an e-product.

Fifth, the Steering Committee mentioned in the draft lacks representation in the Committee. For instance, there is no representation from science/academia and civil society organisations.

Read more: Time’s Running out-Is India ready to handle 34,600 tonnes of solar waste?

Hence, the core changes it proposes within the EPR framework require careful deliberation with all the relevant stakeholders before the Rules are finalised.

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