The Government of India (GoI) introduced the E-Waste Management Rules in 2016. The rules apply to businesses that are generating electronic waste items. The rules specify that businesses should make arrangements for the safe disposal of scrapped electronic items. The rules are administered by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
As the decomposition of electronic items will take a more prolonged and different methodology, the companies are asked to separate the wastes at source. To address the issue, the Government of India has introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility Plan as part of the E-Waste Management Rules. Under the plan, companies should undertake the responsibility to recycle a minimum percentage of the electronic products manufactured.
The E-Waste Management Rules mention the ceiling limit for hazardous chemicals that are used in manufacturing electronic products. The rules also specify the procedure to obtain authorisation from the Pollution Control Board for handling e-waste.
- These rules apply to manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers dealing in any of the following items:
- Centralised data processing instruments, Mainframes, Minicomputers, Central Processing Units (CPUs), Input and output devices used together with CPUs, Laptop Computers, Notebook Computers, Notepad Computers
- Printers, Printer cartridges, Copying Equipment
- Electrical and electronic typewriters, Teleprompter terminals, Facsimiles, Telex machines
- Telephones, Cordless telephones, Cellular telephones, Answering systems
- Television sets [including sets based on Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology]
- Refrigerators, Washing Machines, Air-conditioners (excluding centralised air conditioning plants)
- Fluorescent lamps, lamps which contain mercury, and other Consumer electrical and electronic items.
- These rules apply to e-retailers and stockists also.
- These rules will not apply in the following cases:
- If the assessee is a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME)
- If the assessee generates e-waste containing radioactive material (as per section 2(1)(i) of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962)
A business which manufactures electrical and electronic items should follow the rules mentioned below:
- The company should ensure that the concentration of the following chemicals is within limits specified below:
- The chemicals lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers can be added up to 0.1% of the total weight of the product.
- The chemical cadmium can be added up to 0.01% of the total weight of the product.
- The company should make arrangements to collect electrical and electronic items which have reached the end of their useful life. These items should be obtained from the consumers and transported to the warehouse of the dismantler or recycler. The company should ensure that no damage is caused to the environment on account of moving such items.
- A symbol should be affixed to indicate that the product should not be discarded along with the regular waste. The symbol may be prominently placed on the product or in the user manual.
- The Extended Producer Responsibility Plan forms part of the E-Waste Management Rules. Under the plan, companies are recommended to provide for a scheme of deposit. The scheme should specify that an amount is payable as a deposit by the consumer who buys the product. When the product has exhausted its useful life, the consumer can return the product to the company and reclaim the deposit with interest. A separate department should be formed in the company so that customers can make use of the scheme. The department can be known as the E-Waste Collection, Handling and Disposal Department. The functions of this department are:
- To provide a platform for interaction with customers who wish to return old electronic items to the company
- To collect the items and preserve them in a way that does not cause damage to the environment
- To forward the items to the dismantler or recycler
- To ensure that a dedicated address, e-mail address, and the toll-free helpline number is available for customers to contact when they want to return the old electronic items
- To ensure that any deposit made by a customer at the time of purchase is refunded when the product is returned
- The company should ensure that products which contain mercury are suitably immobilised before forwarding to the dismantler or recycler. Immobilisation of chemicals containing mercury ensures that the mercury is converted from its hazardous form to a safer form. Thus, the chance of environmental pollution is minimised.
- The maximum time allowed for storage of e-waste is 180 days. The State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has the power to extend the time up to 365 days. The extension will be made in case the e-waste needs to be processed before it is forwarded to the dismantler or recycler.
- The following are the targets for e-waste collection as per the E-Waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018:
|S.No.||Financial Year||Percentage of e-waste generated that should be forwarded to the recycling or dismantling centre|
|1||2019-2020||At least 30%|
|2||2020-2021||At least 40%|
|3||2021-2022||At least 50%|
|4||2022-2023||At least 60%|
|5||2023 onwards||At least 70%|
In case the company fails to meet the above requirements, it should stop manufacturing electronic items. It can start manufacturing again only after the conditions above have been met.
- The company should apply for authorisation in Form-1 to the SPCB. Three copies of the form should be sent to the SPCB within 120 days from the date of commencement of manufacture. The documents which should be attached to the form are as follows:
- Certificate of registration obtained from the District Industries Centre (DIC)
- Certificate of installed capacity of plant and machinery issued by the DIC
- An undertaking affirming that:
- The applicant is using environmentally sound technologies in the manufacture of electronic products
- The applicant possesses sufficient technical competence to handle the e-waste generated
- The applicant is capable of affording the facilities and equipment needed to forward the e-waste generated to the warehouse of a recycler or dismantler
- The applicant is willing to comply with the guidelines specified by the Central Pollution Control Board relating to the generation of e-waste
- After conducting the field inspection, the SPCB will grant the authorisation. The authorisation is valid only for the period and place mentioned in the certificate issued by the SPCB. The authorisation should be granted or refused within 120 days. An authorisation, once granted, is valid for five years.
- There is no need to pay any fees along with the application. However, fees are payable for the field inspection. The amount payable varies from state to state.
- The company should maintain a register in Form-2. The name of the register is ‘Register of E-Waste Handled or Generated’. This register is an internal record which should be maintained by the company. Thus, there is no need to file this form with the SPCB.
- The company should file an annual return in Form-3 before 30th June. The return should mention the amount of waste recycled by the company during the year.
- The formats for Forms 1, 2 and 3 are given below: