Greenpeace welcomes government’s move on notifying e-waste rule

Legal ambiguity on producer’s financial responsibility and Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) needs to be cleared out

Press release - May 7, 2010
NEW DELHI, India — Greenpeace today announced that it welcomes the notification of the draft e-waste (Management & Handling) Rule, 2010 based on Extended Producer Responsibility principle by The Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) for public information. The rule will be available for public comment and suggestion for the next sixty days (1). However, the rule has some legal ambiguity on producer’s financial responsibility which needs to be cleared out before the final notification.

"This is a big stride forward for effective e-waste management in the country and we congratulate Mr. Jairam Ramesh and his ministry for making this possible. India is the first developing country to frame such progressive legislation which will not only control the generation of waste at the end stage but also leads to Green Electronic products in the market" said Abhishek Pratap, Toxics Campaigner Greenpeace India. He further added "Producers' financial responsibility in the rule is being diluted by combining their individual responsibility with shared responsibility for managing future e-waste arising from their products. For the benefit of the producers as well as consumers, the financial liability of each producer should be explicit and not provided as an option."

The rule is unique and progressive in nature as first time producers are responsible for the entire lifecycle of the product, from the design to waste. Apart from the Extended Producer Responsibility principle, the rule also has provision for reduction of certain hazardous substances in the electronic products based on standard outline in the rule (schedule III of the rule). Further, the rule also puts a complete ban on import of all used electronic equipment for charity purpose. These three provisions in the rule are the key issues over which Greenpeace has been campaigning for the last four years and pushing the Indian electronic Industry for its support. The outcome of this rule is also largely due to good work done by the electronics sector in the last two years.

However, in the draft e-waste rule, there are two aspects which need further refinement and clarity before the final notification of the rule is implemented. There is legal ambiguity on financial responsibility of the producers on their historic and future waste. Both collective and individual financing systems are allowed for producers to manage their historic and future "end of the life" products which will not be good for effective e-waste management in the country and weaken the liability on the producers (2). This is a legal loophole which can be exploited by the producers to get away from their true responsibility.

The second aspect in the rule which needs further refinement is the standards adopted for Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in the electronic and electrical products. Instead of adopting the European Union (EU) standard which is considered a global standard, the Government chose to re-invent the standard. The EU standard is adopted across the world and non-adoption of the EU standard in the rule for RoHS becomes detrimental for growth of the Indian electronics sector at the international level (3).

The rule is the outcome of four long years of persistent campaigning by Greenpeace in vocalizing the need for separate legislative frameworks based on Producer responsibility for management of electronic waste in the country. This campaign has resulted in wide range of voluntary take-back and recycling programmes offered by all major electronics manufacturers in the country. This also leads to the increase in the number of Green products in the Indian and global market including recent Green products launched by two Indian companies.  The rule is largely based on the recommendation made by Greenpeace along with MAIT, GTZ and Toxicslink with support from all major electronic companies in India and submitted to the Government last year.

Now as a future action plan, Greenpeace is organizing a wide-range consultation on this rule in different cities to generate suggestions and feedback to further improve this rule and invite all stakeholders to participate in these consultations. After compiling all feedback and suggestions, it will be hand over to the Ministry of environment & Forest (MoEF) for consideration.

For further information, contact

Derek J. Wheeler, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India

Ph: +91 98 8634 8476

Email:

Seema Javed, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India

Ph: +91 99 1005 9765

Email:

Abhishek Pratap, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India

Ph: +91 98 4561 0749

Email:

Notes to Editor

1. Draft e-waste (management & handling) Rule, 2010 was notified on 28th April, 2010 by Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF). The said rule is available on Ministry’s website

http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Draft%20E-waste-Rules%2030.3.10.pdf

2. There are two types of producer’s financial responsibility within Extended Producer Responsbility (EPR) – Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) and Collective Producer Responsibility (CPR). For management of future e-waste arising out of end of the life electronic products, IPR is best option because it focus on Individual producer’s products at the waste stage and link level of toxicity to the cost of the recycling such waste. Collective financing did not consider level of toxicity in the product on deciding the cost of recycling and works as de-incentive for those producers who reducing toxic chemicals in their products.
3. European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substance (EU RoHS) Directive ban use of certain toxic chemicals like Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Hexavalent Chromium, Polybromo Biphenyls (PBBs) and Polybromo Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) via Directive 2002/95/EC dated 27 January 2003. Currently, EU parliament is discussing to include Poly Vinyl Chlorides (PVCs) and all forms of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) as ban substance in EU RoHS directive.

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