Managing e-waste needs a new call

Managing e-waste needs a new call

The new rules framed by the environment ministry should go a longer way than the existing rules of 2011 in managing the problem of electronic waste in the country. E-waste has posed a serious health hazard in the last many years with the range and
number of gadgets increasing and their use becoming a part of the habits and lifestyles of people. The ever shorter life cycles of use-and-throw gadgets have aggravated the problem of waste. The new rules are more stringent, and they combine better measures for collection and disposal of e-waste with penal provisions for violation of rules. They put the onus on manufacturers, dealers and retailers to ensure that e-waste is collected and recycled safely and scientifically. About 1.7 million tonnes of e-waste was produced in the country in 2014, and it is growing at about 5%. The growth is more than in other countries and the pace of recycling is slower. This creates a rising mountain of waste.

A good part of this waste gets collected with solid waste produced in urban areas and ends up in landfills. E-waste is also increasingly generated in rural areas because of the growing use of electronic gadgets. If solid waste disposal is poor in cities, it is non-existent in rural areas. People are not adequately informed of the dangers of e-waste and so awareness is also low. Very often, hazardous materials are not segregated from other waste. The part of the e-waste which is dumped in landfills does not disintegrate and remains there practically forever. Substances like mercury and other dangerous chemicals leach into the earth and contaminate water sources. Even when e-waste is separately collected, it is not handled and recycled properly. There have been many cases of accidents caused by crude handling of e-waste. So, e-waste is creating pollution of the soil, water and atmosphere in ways never seen before.

Some of the new norms are expected to be more effective than the old rules. Mercury-containing lamps like CFL have been brought under the purview of the new rules. Producers of electronic goods have been given an “extended producer responsibility” now for collection of e-waste. The provision for collection of a deposit at the time of purchase, which will be refunded when the gadget is returned, will give an incentive to buyers to return the goods. The producers’ obligation to take care of e-waste will go up to 70% in seven years. If implemented well, the new norms will make a lot of difference.
DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)