Managing E-Waste Is Important According To Electronics Manufacturing Vision

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  • The government recently notified three schemes, worth approximately Rs 50,000 crores, in order to position India as a global hub for electronics manufacturing
  • India is the third-largest e-waste generator in the world after China and the US reportedly
  • In order to formalise e-waste management, the government and the industry need to collaborate and build a robust e-waste collection system

According to a report in the Financial Express, India has been aiming to become a leading manufacturing hub of electronics. Earlier in 2019, the National Policy on Electronics (NEP 2019) mentioned its intent to focus on manufacturing for both domestic and global markets.

The NPE has moved from regressive tariff impositions on imports to providing incentives to manufacturers. It is in that spirit that the government recently notified three schemes, worth approximately Rs 50,000 crores, in order to position India as a global hub for electronics manufacturing. Well developed economies have a will to research more on electronics and if India starts exporting one of the highest-selling traded items, it would give India a lot of muscle in global trade. 

Increase in electronics manufacturing

It has also been reported that an increase in electronics manufacturing is also going to lead to an increase in electronic waste. As defined earlier, electronic waste refers to electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discard as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer, as well as rejects from the manufacturing, refurbishing and repair processes. 

Presently India is the third-largest e-waste generator in the world after China and the US. According to the Global E-waste Moniot 2020, India has generated around 3.2 million ton of e-waste in 2019, out of which only 30,000 ton was collected and recycled. It is further estimated that in 2020, India will likely produce 5.2 million tone of e-waste annually. 

Environmentally-responsible manufacturer

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It is concerning that India is perceived as an environmentally-responsible manufacturer. It would be detrimental for the country to be treated like a backyard cheap labour factory that manufactures electronics but doesn’t clean up after itself. 

The positive element is that the government and the industry have been committed to responsible e-waste management. India is the only country in Southern Asia with a e-waste legislation. In fact, India has also implemented laws in place to manage e-waste in 2011. The E-waste (Management) Rules, 2011, mandated only authorised dismantlers and recyclers to collect e-waste. 

E-waste Management Rules 

The E-waste (Management) Rules 2016 had further brought manufacturers, dealers, refurbishes, and Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) under the ambit of the e-waste rules.  The industry has committed to eliminating waste. Manufacturers have engaged PROs to manage e-waste on their behalf. 

The PROs have a network of collection agents and recyclers. However, formal recycling capacity remains under-utilised as 95% of the waste is still handled by the informal sector. In order to formalise e-waste management, the government and the industry need to collaborate and build a robust e-waste collection system.

Central Pollution Control Board

The E-waste Rules at present do not distinguish between collection points and collection centres. Hence, the collection points where the e-waste is dropped off is subject to the same level of regulation as a collection centre. Last year, the Central Pollution Control Board put a halt on imports of companies that were found in non-compliance. 

An adequate notice, followed by an opportunity for fair hearing, must be afforded to all defaulters. These are the basic tenets of the principles on natural justice. The present legislation mounts the entire burden of compliance on the producers. The producers are held liable for non-compliance of service centres and refurbishes too.

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