E-waste Draft Paper Finally on Government Table

by Muntazir Abbas    Aug 06, 2009

With the boom in IT industry and electronic equipment, including gizmos and gadgets, e-waste management casts its dark shadow over India.

Now, a core committee comprising MAIT, Greenpeace, GTZ and Toxics Links, has submtted a draft paper on e-waste management to the Government of India for consideration and adoption of legislation. The draft paper is a set of rules on e-waste management with a focus on individual producer responsibility (IPR).

"The proposed legislation on e-waste (handling and management) under EPA will ensure environment-friendly collection and recycling techniques, and effective mechanism. It will also legally bind IT companies, collection agencies, dismantlers and recyclers. We have finally set the IT industry recommendations drafted for the e-waste legislation, and the government is receptive, which is a positive sign," said Vinnie Mehta, executive director of MAIT.

"Toxics and e-waste has a direct link with the IT industry and it is the key to do best possible things in this area," said Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxics Links. According to Agarwal, there are national guidelines, but a policy framework through legislation is much needed. The government should deal with it seriously and the current administration seems supportive, he added.

Speaking to CXOtoday, Satish Sinha, associate director of Toxics Links, said, "With a dialogue and engagement for more than a year with IT industry association- MAIT, Greenpeace and GTZ, we are now able to put forward collective set of recommendations for the legislation of e-Waste management to the Government of India."

The demand include formation of nodal and regional authorities; improve transparency and accountability; integration of informal sector; and online applications and return. The draft also advocates that larger emphasis should be given on producer s side.

"We are optimistic that there will be positive response from the government on the draft presented, and we’ll continue to pursue the matter," said Sinha.

In March 2008, the Ministry of Environment & Forest had set up some guidelines for e-waste management, but it lacks regulatory framework. This is apparently an attempt to provide teeth to such guidelines with a legal framework.

"The objective of this draft is to bring an easier road to the implementation of e-waste management, and IT industry has a vital role to play. The political leadership should be persuaded through raising public concern so that issues like climate change can be tackled effectively," said G Ananthapadmanabhan, programme director of Greenpeace International. 

The government has set up a task force, which is headed by a joint secretary, and it will look into the current e-waste management draft. According to MAIT-IMRB study based on national assessment, it is estimated that a total of 3,82,000 metric tons of e-waste is generated annually in India, while an additional 50,000 metric tones is illegally imported into the country.