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Waste Management and Extended Producer Responsibility

Lessons from the Past

Yamini Gupt (ygupt@yahoo.com) and Samraj Sahay (samraj.sahay@gmail.com) are with the Department of Business Economics, University of Delhi, New Delhi.

The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, and Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 are reviewed critically with respect to the principle of “extended producer responsibility,” comparing them with the first-ever EPR-based rules in India, the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001. The failure of the recent rules to recognise the role of the huge informal sector in collection and recycling of solid waste, one of the major reasons for the failure of BMHR, undermines their effectiveness. To overcome this drawback, an EPR mechanism integrating the informal collection system with formal recycling along with elimination of informal recycling units has been suggested.

The authors acknowledge the anonymous reviewer of this paper and are thankful for their extremely valuable and constructive suggestions that contributed in improving the paper.
 

In a developing country like India, changes in the consumption pattern over the years with subsequent generation of huge quantities of different types of solid waste has been one of the major environmental concerns. Efforts to address this issue have been made in the past through formulation of rules for proper management and disposal of waste. Till date, several rules have been enforced to deal with the issue of different types of waste, which includes hazardous waste, municipal solid waste, used lead acid batteries (ULABs), biomedical waste, plastic waste, and electronic-waste (e-waste). The latest in the series of such rules are the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWMR), 2016, E-Waste (Management) Rules (EWMR), 2016, and the Plastic Waste Management Rules (PWMR), 2016. These rules are based on the principle of making stakeholders accountable for the management of waste. Most importantly, the rules stipulate that it is the responsibility of the producers to ensure that the waste generated from their products is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

During the last two decades, the waste management policies in developed countries, aimed at reducing the environmental impact of products, have mainly focused on recycling and reuse (Ferrão et al 2008). The principle of “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) has been at the core of most of such policies. Based on the polluter-pays-principle, it increases the accountability of producers by making them responsible for the environmental impacts associated with their products throughout their life cycle (Driedger 2002; Kibert 2004; Forslind 2005; McKerlie et al 2006; Ferrão et al 2008; Nnorom and Osibanjo 2008;
Nahman 2010). In this approach, the financial or physical responsibility of recycling the end-of-life products shifts to the upstream producers (OECD 2001; Walls 2006; Widmer et al 2005).

In India, the principle of EPR has been an integral part of the waste management rules for ULABs, e-waste, and plastics. The Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules (BMHR), 2001 was the first to be based on the concept of EPR without explicitly mentioning it (Gupt 2015). Thereafter, the rules made for plastic waste (Plastic Waste [Management and Handling] Rules, 2011) and e-waste (E-Waste [Management and Handling] Rules, 2011) explicitly laid down the provisions for EPR in managing waste.

The concept of EPR has received much-needed attention in the most recent rules formulated for effective management of solid waste. It is one of the most important parts of the EWMR 2016 and PWMR 2016. For the first time, it has also been included in the SWMR 2016 meant for the management of municipal solid waste. This paper aims to analyse the latest set of rules and compares them with SWMR which have been implemented in the past. Taking into account the lessons learnt from the implementation of the past rules, the paper also proposes measures to overcome the apparent drawbacks in the latest set of rules.

EPR and Waste Management Rules

 

E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016: The first initiative towards managing the huge quantity of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) came in the form of the E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 (MoEF 2012). These rules came into effect on 1 May 2012 and were based on the principle of EPR. The producers were entrusted with both the physical as well as the financial responsibility of environmentally sound management of WEEE. The most important feature of these rules was the requirement of setting up of designated collection centres which had to be registered with the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB)/Pollution Control Committee (PCC) of the state they were located in. The collection centres were responsible for collecting WEEE and transferring them to authorised dismantlers or recyclers (Gupt and Sahay 2015a).

The EWMR 2016—notified on 23 March 2016 and effective from 1 October 2016—replaced the previous e-waste rules of 2011 and can be considered as an extended version of the previous rules (MoEFCC 2016a). The concept of EPR here has received much greater attention as compared to the previous rules. The EPR approach includes the upstream and downstream stages of the product life cycle, with different stakeholders in each of the stages having a well-defined role. The upstream stage of the product includes raw material extraction or processing and manufacturing. The downstream stage includes distribution, retail or sale, consumption or waste generation, collection of waste, and reuse or recycling (Gupt and Sahay 2015a). In EWMR 2016, the role of each stakeholder in the two stages has been identified. An effort has been made to define the precise role of each stakeholder in a very elaborate manner so as to come up with a more comprehensive EPR strategy for managing WEEE.

The 2016 rules are more focused on the upstream segment. Within the upstream segment, the rules are silent over the role of players involved in extraction and processing of materials, and a clear distinction has been made between the manufacturers and producers. The term manufacturer refers to an individual or unit that provides facilities for the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). These manufacturers have been kept out of the EPR framework and are only required to collect and channelise e-waste generated during the manufacture of EEE in their premises to authorised recyclers or disposal facilities.

The term “producer,” on the other hand, refers to a person who manufactures or sells EEE under their own brand; or offers to sell assembled EEE or their components manufactured by other producers under their own brand; or offers to sell imported EEE or their components. The producers have been entrusted with the responsibility of implementing EPR. The rules require the producers to get an EPR authorisation from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The producers have to provide a detailed plan of the EPR scheme that they will be implementing along with their application for authorisation. This includes the details of the system to be used for targeted collection and channelisation of the WEEE to the authorised recyclers or dismantlers.

The producers are required to implement EPR by either setting up individual collection centres or by collaborating with other firms in the industry to collectively set up centres through a tie-up with a producer responsibility organisation (PRO), a separate entity that is financed collectively by the industry to fulfil their EPR obligations. The PRO is mainly responsible for the collection and channelising of WEEE for environmentally sound management on behalf of the producers.

To meet the target set for the collection of WEEE, the producers have schemes such as the buy-back or deposit refund system (DRS) in which they charge a deposit at the time of sale and refund the same with interest for that time period to the consumer on returning the end-of-life EEE. It is mandatory for the producers to submit the details of the PRO and the schemes they will be implementing to ensure the return of WEEE as a part of the EPR plan while applying for the EPR authorisation. Without the authorisation from the CPCB, the producers are treated as carrying out their operation in an environmentally harmful manner.

A collection target has been set up for EPR authorisation, which increases every two years from the date of implementation of the rules. The producers are required to meet the collection target of 30%, 40%, and 50% of the total quantity of waste generated as mentioned in the EPR plan during the first and second, third and fourth, and fifth and sixth years of the implementation of the rules, respectively. Thereafter, from the seventh year onwards, the target increases to 70% of the waste generated.

The success in meeting the targets is heavily dependent on an effective collection mechanism. The channelisation of WEEE from the consumers to the authorised dismantlers or recyclers is facilitated by the collection centres. These centres, in addition to meeting the producer’s obligation, can also collect on behalf of the refurbishers, dismantlers, and recyclers. These centres not only ensure the fulfilment of the producer’s target, but are also responsible for collection and channelisation of the orphaned WEEE.

The major stakeholders in the downstream segment of EPR, that is, the recyclers, dismantlers, refurbishers, and the collection centres are required to get authorisation from the concerned SPCB/PCC. The collection centres ensure that WEEE is stored and transported to the authorised dismantler or recycler without causing damage to the environment. The refurbishers, recyclers, and dismantlers are required to ensure that WEEE is stored, transported, and processed in an environment-friendly manner and that the process used by them does not have any adverse health effects. They also need to ensure that the components that are non-recyclable or non-recoverable are sent to the authorised storage and disposal facilities. In order to comply with the rules, they are required to keep a record of the quantity of waste collected, processed, and disposed and file returns on the same every year to the concerned SPCB/PCC.

The dealers are the interface between consumers and producers. The rules require that they either collect e-waste on behalf of the producers or facilitate a take-back system. If they are doing the former, a box, bin, or a demarcated area has to be provided to the consumers to deposit their WEEE. In the take-back system, the dealer is not only responsible for taking back the WEEE, but also refunding an amount to consumers in accordance with any buy-back scheme or DRS as indicated in the EPR plan. The WEEE thus collected is channelised to the collection centre, recyclers, or dismantlers by the dealers. Further, the dealers are entrusted with the responsibility of safe and environment-friendly storage and transportation of WEEE to the authorised dismantlers or recyclers.

The rules also clearly highlight the responsibility of consumers and bulk consumers. They are required to ensure that the WEEE generated by them is channelised through the dealers, when they collect waste on behalf of the producer, or through a collection centre to the authorised dismantlers or recyclers. The bulk consumers are required to maintain records of the WEEE generated and file annual returns to the concerned SPCB/PCC.

Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016: The Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999, amended in 2003, were the first set of rules in the country for the management of plastic waste. However, the concept of EPR was included for the first time in the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. These rules made the municipal authority responsible for the setting up and operation of a plastic waste management system. The municipal authority was responsible for ensuring collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner. The responsibility also included setting up of collection centres; channelisation of waste to recyclers; engaging groups involved in waste management, including waste pickers; and ensuring no open burning of waste. Under these rules, the EPR was restricted to producers providing finance for setting up of collection centres if asked by the municipal authority. The producers had the option of doing so either individually or collectively.

The concept of EPR has received more prominence in the PWMR 2016 compared to the previous rules (MoEFCC 2016b). The 2016 rules categorically emphasise the role of producers, importers, and brand owners in the management of plastic waste. They have been made responsible for collecting used multilayered sachets, packages and packing materials. The producers of multilayered plastic sachets or pouches or packaging are required to work out a definite strategy for establishing a collection system for plastic waste, resulting from the use of their products, in coordination with state urban development departments. They may come up with a plan for establishing a collection system based on EPR either individually or collectively. The system may use the producers’ own distribution channel or the concerned local body for collection.

The collection plan is required to be submitted by them to the concerned SPCB/PCC while applying for consent for their activities. The producers had to mandatorily register with the concerned SPCB/PCC within three months of the publication of these rules. The producers are required to maintain records of the suppliers of raw materials used in the manufacture of plastic carry bags, sheets, and multilayered packaging. However, the responsibility of stakeholders such as recyclers, retailers, consumers, and local bodies in regard to EPR has not been delineated in the rules and is left to the discretion of the producers. This indicates that the principle of EPR has just started to take centre stage in plastic waste management, and still a lot more needs to be done to have an effective EPR-based plastic waste management system.

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016: The SWMR 2016 replaced the 15-year-old Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 (MoEFCC 2016c). The 2016 rules are far more comprehensive with a considerable increase in their scope. The coverage of the rules is no longer confined to the municipal areas alone. Outgrowths in urban agglomerations, notified industrial townships, census towns, areas controlled by the Indian Railways, airports, airbases, ports, harbours, special economic zones, defence establishments, state and central government organisations, and places of religious and historical importance have also been brought under the jurisdiction of these rules. Accordingly, the duties of the concerned stakeholders in the management of solid waste have been delineated.

The rules very clearly define the duties of waste generators, all concerned ministries of the Government of India, the CPCB, SPCBs/PCCs, district administration, local authorities in towns and urban agglomerations, and the village panchayat/councils. Keeping in view the significant role of waste pickers or ragpickers and waste dealers or kabadiwalas (scrap dealers) in the management of solid waste, the rules have assigned the duty of integrating them into the formal system to state governments, self-help groups (SHGs), or any other similar groups that may be formed for the same purpose.

Based on the concept of EPR, the duties of manufacturers or brand owners of disposable products, sanitary napkins, and diapers have been defined. The rules make it mandatory for all manufacturers of disposable products like tin, glass, and plastic packaging and brand owners responsible for the introduction of such products in the market to provide the required finance to local authorities for setting up a waste management system. The brand owners of products with non-biodegradable packaging materials are required to establish a collection system to collect back the waste arising due to their product.

As a part of the EPR, producers, brand owners and marketing companies of sanitary products like napkins and diapers are made responsible for the disposal of the waste from their products. They are required to make efforts to use easily recyclable materials in their products or provide separate wrappers along with their products to facilitate their disposal. This can be considered as a “design for environment” (DfE) initiative, which basically incorporates environmental concerns in product design to reduce the environmental burden associated with a product. They are also given the responsibility of educating the masses for wrapping and safe disposal of their products.

Learning from the Past

In India, BMHR 2001, which incorporated the principle of EPR for the first time, was introduced to specifically deal with the issue of end-of-life management of ULABs (MoEF 2001). These rules, without explicitly mentioning EPR, required the manufacturers of lead acid batteries to collect 90% of new batteries sold through a deposit refund or a buy-back system and channelise them to registered smelting units. The retailers serve as a major component of the downstream segment of the EPR, as it is mandatory for them to ensure the functioning of DRS and sell the deposited ULABs to registered smelters only. Under this system, the consumers get a discount on the purchase of new batteries by depositing their old ones (Gupt 2015; Gupt and Sahay 2015a, 2015b).

Following the implementation of these rules in 2001, a well-defined legal framework for EPR-based DRS for ULABs has existed in India. Except for an amendment in 2010, which calls for the manufacturers to sell new batteries only to dealers registered with SPCBs/PCCs, there has been no effort to come up with any changes to these rules. These registered dealers need to file returns every six months on the number of ULABs collected. In the case of non-compliance, their registration could be cancelled. The amendment made dealers equally responsible along with manufacturers for non-compliance.

As ULABs come under the BMHR 2001 (amended in 2010), they have been kept out of the purview of the latest waste management (e-waste and solid waste) rules implemented in 2016. This indicates that these rules have supposedly achieved their goals. However, the reality on the ground shows that these rules have failed to achieve the desired results (Gupt 2015). Thus, it becomes essential to critically examine the latest EPR-based waste management rules in context of the lessons learnt from the implementation of BMHR 2001. Table 1 (p 37) provides a comparison of the EPR-based rules for waste management implemented in India till date.

The latest EWMR, 2016 exhibit similarity with the existing BMHR 2001, both in the upstream as well as downstream segments of the EPR. As in the case of BMHR 2001, producers have been made responsible for the end-of-life EEE and are required to collect these as per the set targets and channelise these to authorised recyclers, dismantlers, or refurbishers. Unlike the BMHR 2001, here the producers have to fulfil their obligations by either setting up collection centres to collect the WEEE on their own or get it done through centres which collect on behalf of the producers. They may also entrust their responsibility to a designated PRO or the e-Waste Exchange by entering into a tie-up with them. The producers give the required funds to the PRO for fulfilling their obligations. To ensure the targeted collection of WEEE, the producers implement buy-back schemes or the DRS through dealers. While the rules have defined the role of each stakeholder (upstream and downstream), they (as in the case of BMHR 2001) fail to take into account the strong presence of an informal sector responsible for recycling a major portion of WEEE generated in India (Gupt and Sahay 2015a).

One of the major reasons for the failure of BMHR 2001 has been the leakage of ULABs to informal smelters. As per these rules, retailers are required to sell the ULABs collected from the consumers under the DRS only to the representatives of producers or registered smelters. Gupt (2015), in a study conducted in the national capital region of Delhi found that the producers were unable to meet their stipulated target mainly due to the retailers’ decision to send the ULABs for informal recycling.

The retailers prefer to sell the ULABs to itinerant collectors/kabadiwalas who then sell them to the informal smelters or bhattis. The major factors guiding their decision include the higher frequency of visits by kabadiwalas as compared to the producers’ representative and also the higher price for ULABs offered by the scrap dealers. Also, the lack of space for storing ULABs is a major reason for the retailers to recycle these informally. This leakage of ULABs to the informal sector results in the registered smelters operating much below their capacity due to the shortage of raw material.

The EPR-based EWMR 2016 are silent on the rampant recycling of e-waste informally. Presently, the responsibility of collecting the WEEE is with the collection centres, PRO, or the dealers. In the present system, dealers have no incentive to collect the WEEE and send it for formal recycling. A strong presence of the informal sector and the frequent visits of kabadiwalas pushes the dealers to channelise the WEEE to informal recyclers. Nearly 95% of the WEEE generated in India is recycled by informal recyclers (Annamalai 2015). These informal recyclers are mainly operational in urban slums and carry out the recycling process in ways that are extremely harmful for the environment and human health.

The rules make the producers responsible only for the WEEE arising from their own products. The existence of an illegal market or “grey market” for EEE and unknown producers in India make it difficult to identify all the producers. This results in the production of a large amount of WEEE for which there are no known producers, and such products become “born-to-be orphan” products. In addition, a large amount of WEEE is illegally imported into India, which adds to the already significant amount of domestic WEEE (Gupt and Sahay 2015a). The existence of the grey market makes it difficult to address the illegal transboundary movement of EEE. The WEEE arising from the orphaned products is recycled primarily by informal recyclers. This provides enough raw materials for the informal sector to survive even if all the WEEE generated from the products of the authorised producers were to be recycled formally.

Role of Informal Sector

The informal recycling of the domestic WEEE that arises from orphaned products and illegally imported WEEE, the practice of selling WEEE by bulk and retail consumers to the informal sector due to the higher monetary incentive on offer, and inadequate incentives provided by the producers to consumers to channelise their WEEE to authorised collection centres creates a huge shortage of raw material for the authorised recyclers, dismantlers, and refurbishers (Gupt and Sahay 2015a; Bhaskar and Turaga 2017). As a result, they tend to operate much below their capacity. The inadequate quantity of WEEE available for processing results in the underutilisation of capacity of the authorised units and increases their overall cost of functioning. This poses a serious threat for their survival.

Under the above-mentioned circumstances, it is extremely difficult for the EPR programmes to achieve their goals. It will be very difficult for the producers to fulfil their obligations of achieving the targeted collection for environmentally sound management of WEEE. The setting up of collection centres or tying up with a PRO for collection of the WEEE might not be economically feasible due to the inadequate availability of e-waste for formal recycling. The authorised recyclers, dismantlers, and refurbishers would find it difficult to compete with the informal recycling units.

Both the PWMR 2016 and EWMR 2016 stipulate that the producers are responsible for the environmentally sound management of waste, but the framework for EPR has not been defined. These rules require that the producers come up with a framework for EPR. The PWMR 2016 requires that the producers to have an effective collection system for the collection of the plastic waste. Presently, the collection and recycling of plastic waste is dominated by informal recycling. These rules do not make any specific mention about the existence of informal sector. It is very likely that the EPR-based plastic waste management plan by producers will not take into account the existence of the informal sector. Hence, the PWMR would face problems similar to those encountered by the BMHR 2001 and EWMR 2016.

The SWMR 2016 has for the first time acknowledged the role of the informal sector and has a provision for integrating waste pickers and waste dealers into the formal system. The role of integrating them has been assigned to the state governments and SHGs. The EPR framework for management of disposable and sanitary products makes the producers both physically and financially responsible for the management of the waste generated from their products. However, it does not clearly identify the role of the informal sector in recycling of such waste.

The Way Forward

Gupt and Sahay (2015a) reviewed 27 cases to determine the factors affecting the concept of EPR functional in developed and developing economies with and without an informal sector and found that the presence of an informal sector is one of the most important factors affecting EPR. After analysing the implementation and impact of the EPR-based BMHR 2001 for the management of ULABs, it has been found that the presence of a prominent informal sector in India (the size of which is not known) is one of the major reasons for the failure of this waste management system (Gupt 2015). The informal sector plays a significant role in recycling of WEEE, plastics, and disposable solid wastes.

However, the EPR-based rules have been found to be very successful in developed and some developing economies where the informal sector is not active. Among the developing economies, Taiwan has a very successful EPR-based mechanism for e-waste and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. The producers there fulfil their responsibilities by paying a fee to the Recycling Fund Management Committee (RFMC), a centralised government body under the Environment Protection Agency (Chung and Murakami- Suzuki 2008). The e-waste recyclers buy WEEE from specific collection firms which collect it from the consumers, retailers and local government and then claim subsidy from the RFMC.

In the case of the PET bottles, producers pay a fee to the RFMC according to their sales. The EPR functions using a very effective DRS in which the deposit is collected from the producers and is used to give financial incentive to the consumers for bringing back the bottles. This scheme provides greater incentive for retailers (which are often a drop-off spot) and enough financial incentives for end-users. The issue of unregistered producers taking advantage of the DRS is controlled by involving the Industries Ministry, and barcoding is used to segregate PET bottles for which the producers have paid the advanced recycling fee (Lease 2002; O’Connor 1999).

Studies have found that outsourcing the responsibility of collection of end-of-life products by the producers to separate collection agencies or PRO is key to the success of EPR schemes (Gupt and Sahay 2015a). The latest rules for WEEE and plastic waste are in line with this finding as the producer’s responsibility has been restricted to provide the required finance for setting up of a separate collection agency or tie up with a PRO. This is similar to the provisions of BMHR 2001.

The financial involvement of retailers in paying refunds (under the DRS) or charging the advanced recycling fee has a negative impact on EPR (Gupt and Sahay 2015a). The latest rules have a provision for a financial role of retailers or dealers in implementing the DRS or the take-back system. This is a matter of concern, because retailers are the major leakage point from where the flow of waste gets channelised into the informal sector. Informal recycling provides a profitable alternative to retailers which prevents them from fulfilling their obligation as defined by EPR. This in turn prevents the producers from achieving their EPR targets.

The major drawback in the present use of EPR is that it does not take into consideration the existence of the informal sector and accordingly no measures have been provided in the rules that could prevent WEEE from being informally recycled. The implementation of the BMHR 2001, over the years has shown that the retailers are the major leakage point, and it is difficult to check such leakages as long as better incentives are provided to the retailers by informal recyclers. The amendment of BMHR in 2010 has made dealers or retailers more accountable and requires producers to deal with only those dealers who are registered with the concerned SPCBs/PCCs. These registered dealers are required to file a return every six months on the number of ULABs collected by them, making them equally responsible for non-compliance along with the producers. However, this measure has not proved to be effective because monitoring the compliance of a large number of dealers is administratively very difficult as compared to the monitoring of a small number of producers.

The significant presence of the informal sector in recycling of WEEE, plastics and other recyclable waste needs to be acknowledged. The number of people dependent on informal recycling is very large. Hence, the elimination of informal recycling cannot be a solution, as this would have severe economic and social implications, affecting the livelihood of those dependent on it. The solution to the problem lies in integrating informal recycling with formal recycling. We propose an EPR mechanism which integrates the informal collection system, comprising of kabadiwalas and scrap dealers, with the formal recycling system and the elimination of informal recycling units, which are mainly responsible for damage to the environment and health. This integration will enhance the collection efficiency of the separate collection agencies set up by the producers.

The informal system has an extensive network and greater market reach. The collection agencies can integrate the services of the kabadiwala by providing them better incentives than they would get by selling the waste to informal recycling units. They can do so by using the subsidy they get from the producers. This would stop the flow of WEEE to the informal recycling units, making it difficult for them to survive. The dealers will be left with the option of selling the WEEE collected by them either to the collection agencies or kabadiwalas who in turn will take it to the collection agencies. The storage problem, one of the main reasons of non-compliance, will be solved by the high frequency of visits by the kabadiwalas. Thus, by using the existing informal collection system, the WEEE, plastic wastes, and other recyclable waste can be directed for formal recycling. The details of the proposed EPR mechanism and the pros and the cons of other alternatives have been provided by Gupt and Sahay (2015b) in the context of EPR for ULABs. Presently, validation of the proposed model is being carried out, using a case study approach.

The EPR mechanism has been designed and implemented in various developing countries with a prominent informal sector and has exhibited varying degrees of success. China brought in a EPR-based regulation—Regulation on the Administration of the Recovery and Disposal of WEEE, effective from 1 January 2011—which allows the setting up of a special fund for subsidising formal e-waste collection and treatment. Thailand implemented the National Integrated Strategy for the Management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment or “Thai WEEE Strategy” which requires producers to pay a product fee to be used for the buy-back programme (Gupt and Sahay 2015a; Bhaskar and Turaga 2017). The experiences of these countries in waste management can provide vital inputs to future Indian legislations.

Conclusions

This paper critically analyses EWMR 2016, PWMR 2016, and SWMR 2016 with respect to the role of EPR in the management of WEEE, plastic wastes, and other recyclable waste. A comparison of these latest rules with EPR-based BMHR 2001, enforced for managing ULABs, highlights the major drawbacks of these rules. The present rules for management of WEEE have laid down the framework for EPR by carefully describing the roles of the upstream and downstream stakeholders. The responsibility of producers is restricted to a financial one and they have to fulfil their obligations by setting up separate collection agencies or tying up with a PRO. This can be considered as a welcome step and will make the implementation of EPR more effective. However, the rules completely ignore the existence of a strong and significant informal sector, involved in recycling of the bulk of WEEE. The presence of an illegal or “grey” market for EEE and illegal import of WEEE, which have a huge impact on the quantity of WEEE available for recycling, have been completely ignored. The role of the informal sector in management of plastic wastes and other solid wastes, such as recyclable materials and sanitary products which find their way to the municipal waste sites, has also been neglected in the concerned rules.

The problem of channelisation of WEEE for informal recycling can be controlled by acknowledging the existence of the informal sector and integrating the informal collection
system with formal recycling. This move would make the collection process for formal recycling of waste more efficient, enabling the producers to meet their targets in an environment friendly manner. This would also cut down the supply of WEEE to the informal recycling units, making it difficult for them to survive.

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Updated On : 3rd May, 2019

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