‘Draft e-waste rules will fail to curb illegal trade’

New Delhi, May 18 (Calcutta Tube) The draft regulations the environment ministry has prepared for handling and management of electronic goods waste (e-waste) in the country might be ineffective in controlling its illegal trade, an environment NGO said Tuesday.

‘It is a well known fact that India produces as well as imports thousands of tonnes of electronic waste every year. Almost all this waste is recycled or scrapped by the unorganised sector using the most rudimentary methods that pollute,’ said Kushal Yadav, who heads the toxins department at the NGO, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

According to CSE, the draft e-waste rules prepared last month do not address the issue of the unorganised sector involved in the business of electronic waste.

‘The government assumes it will be able to regulate the informal sector through its proposed rules on e-waste, which allows only registered companies to recycle e-waste. Actually, the unorganised sector will continue to be in the business but will do it illegally,’ Yadav said.

India generates about 350,000 tonnes of electronic waste every year and imports another 50,000 tonnes illegally.

The CSE did an undercover investigation and claimed that the country’s only legal recycling company Attero is illegally reselling e-waste to the unorganised sector, instead of recycling it. The company has denied the allegations.

‘Our investigations spanned the main e-waste dismantling and recycling hub in India – from Seelampur in Delhi to Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. More than 90 percent of this e-waste generated in the country lands up in the unorganised market,’ Yadav said.

The CSE also emphasised the need to recognise the importance of the informal sector and make it part of the mainstream business model.

‘They should be involved in collection, segregation, dismantling and refurbishing of e-waste while recycling should be done by approved units with pollution control technologies,’ said Chandra Bhushan, who heads the CSE’s industry and environment programme.

‘It is estimated that illegal import of e-waste in the country stands at about 50,000 tonnes annually. Loopholes in laws facilitate this. For instance, the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act of 1992 provides for donation of computers to educational and charitable trusts, hospitals and others,’ he said.

The government’s new draft rules declare such imports for charity illegal – without giving thought to other ways through which e-waste is imported, such as under the pretext of metal scrap and second-hand electrical appliances, he added.

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