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Q. How far do you think new notification of e-waste management rules (2016) will be able address the challenges associated with waste management? Discuss.
Mar 28, 2016 Related to : GS Paper : 3

Ans :

Introduction -

E-waste are discarded electronics devices, many of these products can be reused, refurbished or recycled. E-waste is management biggest challenge in India (also in developing countries), as informal and conventional form processing will cause serious health and pollutions problems. Hence it requires proper regulatory mechanism. Indian government has undertaken several initiatives in this regard, but its progress is very slow due to various issues. Recently environment ministry has been notified new rules in this regard.


E-waste management in India -


India generates about eight lakh tonnes of e-waste annually, but only half of that quantum is recycled in a scientific way due to limited recycling facilities. Though e-waste creates much more problem, still there is lack of scientific studies in this regard. Recycling units in India use crude methods like open burning to extract copper, lead, aluminium and iron. Hazardous materials, including heavy metals, are dumped in garbage yards, and the corrosive chemicals are discharged in haphazard manner leads to soil, air and water pollution. Such unsustainable course of e-waste management creates various problems related to health and pollution (environment). 


Even rules, regulation and implementation of e-waste management were not at par with the impact it generates, in this background new rules have gained importance. 


Will new rules address the existing challenges?


Now e-waste collection is exclusively producer’s responsibility (to avoid unscientific disposal). Generally consumers are keen on recovering economic value from waste, hence house hold stocks e-waste. New rules provide several options to manufacturers like collection of a refundable deposit and paying for the return of goods which is a welcome move. Similarly other positive measures like classifying mercury-laden light bulbs as e-waste (helps in keeping out of municipal landfills), annual return filing of bulk electronic consumers, target based approach for collection, simplification of permissions etc are very good initiatives. 


If the proposed rules implemented with firm political will, then definitely it will address most of the challenges associated with e-wastes. 


What’s next?


For successful implementation of these rules there is need of an awareness campaign for effective implementation of these rules and also consumers should be incentivised for disposal e-wastes in a producer operated buy back network. Both central and state governments should implement these rules firmly to realise desired goals. 


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