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New e-waste rules threaten jobs, collection network- UPSC Daily Important Topic | 19 September 2022

New e-waste rules threaten jobs, collection network-

✓A proposed framework by Centre for regulating e-waste in India has upset a key link of India’s electronic waste collection system and threatens the livelihood of thousands of people.

● E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016:

✓It introduced a system of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) compelling makers of electronic goods to ensure a proportion of goods they sold every year was recycled.

✓They are expected to maintain records annually demonstrating this.

✓Most companies however did not maintain an in-house unit in charge of recycling.

✓This gave rise to a network of government-registered companies, called producer responsibility organisations (PRO).

✓It acted as an intermediary between manufacturers of electronic goods and formal recycling units.

✓They were technologically equipped to recycle end-of-life electronic goods safely and efficiently.

● The associated concern with draft rule:

✓Recently Ministry issued a draft notification that does away with PROs and dismantlers.

✓It vests all responsibility of recycling with authorised recyclers, only a handful of which exist in India.

✓Recyclers will source a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate electronic certificates.

✓Companies can buy these certificates equivalent to their annual committed target and thus do not have to be involved with engaging the PROs and dismantlers.

✓Several PROs have objected agaisnt these rules arguing that dismantling a fledgling system was detrimental to future of e-waste management in India.

● Centre’s stand:

✓Centre has not explained its rationale for dismantling the existing system.

✓The new rules would improve accountability as it would rely on an electronic management system that would track the material that went in for recycling with output claimed by a recycler when they claimed GST (Goods and Services Tax) input credit.

✓It incentivises to invest in a dependable supply chain that will collect and recycle waste.

✓System managed by PRO isn’t always reliable as there have been several instances of double-counting.

● Conclusion:

✓Proposed rules shifted responsibility for controlling e-waste away from producers of goods to recyclers.

✓There were too few recyclers across India and predominant in big cities and in the absence of dismantlers, goods would now have to travel greater distances to be recycled.

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