We are deeply disappointed by E- Waste (Management) Rules, 2015 prepared by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It clearly shows that Ministry has failed to take a note of existing informality in e-waste management and came up with a set of rules which even before enforcement will fall apart.
The given set of ‘Producer Responsibility Organizations’ role of whom have been explicitly discussed in the rules, are doing work in their small niches but it is informal waste workers i.e. scrap dealers, waste pickers and other related vocations which are the backbone of recycling industry. We should appreciate their work, instead of dismissing them out rightly as it seems from the rules. Many scrap dealers’ and informal recyclers’ collectives across India are creating awareness in their circles to avoid burning any kind of waste as they are aware of the environmental damage caused by the practice. In addition to that according to a researcher from Toronto university- informal recyclers or scrap dealers by recycling the e-waste create opportunities for practical learning for those who can’t afford expensive computers and equipment. Through that they democratize and expand the ambit of digital knowledge.
Considering their role, in 2011, Rajya Sabha research unit included a section on ‘Recognizing the unorganized sector in India’ in the paper ‘E-waste in India’ written and published for the benefit of members of parliament.
The paper clearly recommended the inclusion of scrap dealers (informal sector) in e-waste management by upgrading their skills as they handle more than 90% of the waste. The Rajya Sabha occasional paper quoted by UNEP report on “Recycling – from E-waste to Resources” recognizes that the informal/ unorganized collection system has been rather efficient in countries like India because the daily informal collectors can penetrate each community and city to collect waste from house to house.
According to the report, they are flexible with working hours and location; they pay a reasonable price to the consumers and are in charge of all the transportation work. This brings not only income to the informal collectors (scrap dealers) but contributes to the high collection rate without putting pressure on the consumers. Any future formal collection system has to take advantage of the “distributed informal collectors”.
Our reading of e-waste management rules informs us that the Ministry has totally ignored the work of informal waste workers who are the backbone of existing e-waste management system. We request the Ministry to undertake an extensive consultative process with all stakeholders including informal e-waste management units and organizations working with informal waste workers, for drafting e-waste rules. We know that the environmental norms are flouted in informal e-waste management, safety measures are not at all considered. This doesn’t mean that we should not recognize their contribution. It is strongly suggested that recognizing the worth of the informal waste workers is must and is first step which will further lead to inclusion and enforcement of environmental norms and safety measures even in the informal e-waste economy.
Further we also state that the tube-lights, CFL bulbs and lot of other material in small quantities have been exempted from the draft E-waste rules, 2015. While there is an exemption for those products, they are a health hazard for city at large, and form a major waste stream which is standing aggregated in many formal and informal collection facilities. Through e-waste norms EPR should be enforced on producers to take the aggregated e-waste from these facilities back and reduce the health and environmental risks. If the rules cannot address the given material in their scattered form, there should be framework to ensure their aggregation at a Municipal collection facility supported by producers. The aggregated e-waste then should be taken by the producers for dismantling or refurbishing in possible environmentally sustainable way.
We hope that Ministry shall consider our comments and undertake an extensive consultative process for re-drafting the e-waste rules.
Here are some of specific comments:
|3.c||Bulk consumer||It is recommended that Ministry define the definitions of waste generator or generator of waste, institutional generator and bulk consumer across the spectrum. Use of different terminologies adds to the confusion.
Again here, it is expected that multi dwelling apartments of 50 units, malls, sports complex/stadiums, place of worship, and marriage halls are added
|3 e||Collection Center||Consider replication of ‘Dry Waste Collection Centers’ model initiated by Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPallike(Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation) across India as we believe that it is one of the best practices which if extended further can streamline the collection of dry waste including e- waste in the most sustainable manner and also will pursue local bodies for inclusion of informal waste workers i.e. wastepickers, scrap-dealers and itinerant buyers.|
|3g||Channelisation||Here it is expected that channelization is routed through the informal sector|
|3p||EPR||According to our submission to Plastic Waste Rules 2015,
We strongly recommend that a national policy defining the ‘Extended Producers Responsibility’ framework for all forms of waste should be brought out after consultation with all relevant stakeholders as has been done in European Union.
Further we would like you to consider the following for inclusion of informal waste economy in the E-Waste Rules, 2015.
|1.||Capacity building and incentive mechanism for inclusion.||Capacity building and incentive mechanisms should be provisioned in the rules for informal waste economy to become formal – and for producers to create such platforms.|
|2.||Cumbersome disclosure norms||While the new rules acknowledge presence of a vibrant refurbishing industry, most of the refurbishing is being done by entities registered as service centers, small vendors, dealers etc. The disclosure norms will be cumbersome for most of them –including dealers.|
|3||Criteria for approval||There should be minimum criteria for approval for e-recyclers / dismantlers / collections centers. This could be based on investment or technology or a combination of both.|
|4.||Safety standards and requirements.||The draft rules should also specify the minimum safety and health requirements for workers working in the e-waste industry.|
Kabir Arora, Coordinator, Hasiru Dala; Nalini Shekar, Executive Director, Hasiru Dala; Pinky Chandran, Trustee, Hasiru Dala; Marwan Abubaker, Director, Hasiru Dala.
UNEP & United Nations University, Recycling- From e-waste To Resources, Sustainable Innovation and Technology Transfer Industrial Sector Studies, July, 2009
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