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Treaties & rules to tackle Menace E-waste
Apr 18, 2015

The international conventions seeking to control the shipping of waste are the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (1989), Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (1998) and Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001). Subsequent to these, various regional conventions have been signed to regulate hazardous waste movements. Complementing international and regional conventions, international organizations also have an important role to play, for example, in monitoring the transport of toxic substances and running programmes to reduce the impact of e-waste on human health and the environment. 

Basal Convention:

♦ It  controls the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal.

♦ It is the most significant multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) in relation to tackling the issues surrounding e-waste and its management.

♦ The Convention largely relates to trade measures, although it includes several non-trade measures. It presents four main aims related to the waste hierarchy of prevention, reduction, recovery and final disposal.

♦ With regard to those hazardous materials deemed to require transboundary movement, the Basel Convention imposes a series of trade restrictions as set out by the aim of regulating and monitoring.

♦ The Basel Convention also provides for the development of tools and training activities through the Green Customs Initiative (GCI), to assist Parties to enforce the Convention and to combat illegal traffic.

♦ The Third Conference of the Parties (COP3) in 1995 adopted the “BAN Amendment” or “Basel BAN”, the Decision to ban shipment of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries for the purposes of final disposal.

♦ In 2006, COP8 adopted the Nairobi ministerial declaration on the environmentally sound management of electronic and electrical waste, and called for urgent global action on e-waste with the aim to “create innovative solutions through the Basel Convention for the environmentally sound management of e-waste.

♦ The Protocol on Liability and Compensation, adopted in December 1999, which established rules on liability and compensation for damages caused by accidental spills of hazardous waste during export or import or disposal.

♦ A new 10 year vision unveiled at the Seventh Session of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG 7) of the Basel Convention on 14 May 2010 which laid greater emphasis on highlighting the links between waste management, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and human health and livelihoods. Developing global recycling guidelines for used computers and support for furthering the objectives of the Ban Amendment to the Convention which prohibits the export of hazardous waste from developed countries to developing countries was one of the key outcomes of the Convention

Rotterdam Convention:

♦ It promotes shared responsibility between exporting and importing countries in protecting human health and the environment, and provides for the exchange of information about potentially hazardous chemicals that may be exported and imported.

♦ The Rotterdam Convention covers pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely controlled by Parties

The Stockholm Convention:

♦ The Convention requires Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) into the environment. E-waste contain many toxic substances classified as POPs.

♦ The Convention aims to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain persistent in the environment for long periods, are distributed globally and accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and animals. 

Bamako Convention:

♦ The Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa was signed in Bamako, Mali, in January 1991 and entered into force in 1998.

♦ The Convention aims to protect human health and environment from dangers posed by hazardous wastes by reducing their generation to a minimum in terms of quantity and/or hazardous potential.

♦ The need to sign the Bamako Convention arose from the failure of the Basel Convention to prohibit trade of hazardous waste to the less developed countries, and from the realization that many developed nations were exporting toxic wastes to Africa.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive:

♦ Directive entered into force in 2003 and principally deals with European Union.

♦ The aim of the legislation is the prevention of e-waste generation, and to promote the reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of such waste so as to reduce disposal.

♦ Directive seeks to improve the environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle of electrical and electronic equipment and, in particular, those operators directly involved in the treatment of e-waste.

♦ The WEEE Directive imposes most of the obligations on the producer of the electrical and electronic equipments

The RoHS Directive

♦ It is a Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment in European Union.

♦ Its purpose is to restrict the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and contribute to the protection of human health and the environmentally sound recovery and disposal of e-waste.

Indian Scenario

In India, the Constitution assigns solid waste management as a primary responsibility to the Municipalities under the Twelfth Schedule. Article 243W empowers the State Legislatures to

frame legislations in respect of waste management. The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000 were enacted by the Central Government which came into force from 25 September 2000. Some of the guidelines for handling municipal solid wastes provided in the Schedules are relevant for the management of e-waste and can be used as a model in the e-waste recycling and disposal scheme.

While the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules regulate the disposal of municipal solid wastes in an environmentally acceptable manner and the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling & Transboundary) Rules define and regulate all aspects of the hazardous waste, there were no specific environmental laws for the management and disposal of e-waste until 2012. I 2011 E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2010 —to address the e-waste problem and to regularise the informal sector, which was notified and came into effect across the country, on May 1, 2012. The new rules, which come under the ambit of the Environment Protection Act of 1986, apply to all citizens. Ordinary users as well as large-scale handlers of e-waste risk prosecution if they do not follow norms on disposal. Some Other Measures taken in India are:

(i) The guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management of e-waste, published by CPCB, provide approach and methodology for environmentally sound management of e-waste.

(ii) In E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has been enshrined to make EPR a mandatory activity associated with the production of electronic and electrical equipments. The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environment protection strategy that makes the producer responsible for the entire life cycle of the product, especially for take back, recycling and final disposal of the product.

(iii) E-waste recycling can be undertaken only in facilities authorized and registered with State Pollution Control Boards/Pollution Control Committees. Waste generated is required to be sent or sold to a registered or authorized recycler or re-processor having environmentally sound facilities.

(iv) The Ministry is implementing a Scheme to provide financial assistance for setting up of treatment, disposal and storage facility for hazardous and integrated recycling facilities for E-waste on public private partnership mode. 

 

 


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