Producers responsible to collect CFL bulbs on expiry: HC

Producers responsible to collect CFL bulbs on expiry: HC

Producers of CFL bulbs are responsible for collecting them on expiry to check leakage of e-waste to informal sector or unauthorised players under the new e-waste management rules, government told told Delhi High Court on Thursday.

The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal which is hearing a plea by electric lamp manufacturers challenging the Centre’s e-waste management rules 2016, notified on March 23.

CFL producers like Philips Lighting, Havells, Surya and the Electric Lamp and Component Manufacturers’ Association have challenged the new rules which requires them to collect from consumers and dispose of fluorescent and other mercury containing lamps on their ‘end-of-life’.

They have contended that factor of ‘end-of-life’, which is the “trigger” for collection of the bulbs, is “uncertain” as “such an event lies in hands of the consumer”. They claimed that collection of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) was the responsibility of the local and municipal bodies which has now been “illegally shifted” upon them.

The Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change defended the government’s decision to make the CFL producers responsible for collection, saying this was similar to the companies’ scheme providing Rs 10 discount on sale of new CFL or LED lamp on return of the old one.

“A similar scheme is being implemented in the new rules for all CFLs or mercury containing lamps, irrespective of date of manufacturing and without purchasing a new CFL or LED,” the government said in a short affidavit filed by it.

It also said the new rules provide for a “deposit refund scheme” under which the producer charges an additional amount at the time of sale of electrical and electronic equipment and refunds it with interest when ‘end-of-life’ product is returned.

Opposing the government’s submissions, the petitioners have said that their Rs 10 discount scheme was introduced only to assist the local bodies in achieving the objective of collection.

The companies and the association representing them, in their plea, have said the new rules make it obligatory for them to collect even those lamps which were sold when no such condition for collection existed and claimed that such a “retrospective regime” was outside the legislative field of the government and not authorised under the Environment Protection Act 1986.

They also said that while they have been saddled with the responsibility of collection, with the threat of being penalised for non-compliance, there is no obligation or penalty on the consumers for ensuring their compliance.

They contended that once a product has been sold, they cannot impose restrictions on the consumer to return it at end-of-life as ownership of that product is with the buyer.

They have sought setting aside of the inclusion of fluorescent and other mercury containing lamps in the e-waste management rules, saying it was not part of the draft rules and was introduced without consulting them.

However, the ministry has opposed this contention saying that the draft rules were notified in June last year and objections were invited and considered by a technical working group as well as a technical review committee after which these were finalised.

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