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Issue 38
, 2013
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Designing Take back Systems for E-Waste

Source: Toxics Link, Date: , 2012

E- Waste, one of the fastest growing waste segments globally, is of significant concern on account of high volumes and toxic material content.  E-waste also contains valuable non-renewable materials; hence the necessity to recycle waste and reduce burden on mining of virgin materials. Some of these complexities and concerns for environment created conditions for the policy-makers in many parts of the world to involve the producers / product manufacturers to own responsibility for the end of life disposal of these products and introduction of a policy tool ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ (EPR).

There is a need to understand some of the systems currently operational in many other countries and then analyze and identify those fundamentals that can be suitably adopted in Indian conditions. This brings us to some key questions of what kind of Take back system will work in India; how do we decide the scale of such collection system; do we need to have different models for different product groups and how to gather the right data to monitor and improve the take back system.

Toxics Link explored these questions and tried to come up with some solutions with the help of national and international experts. The day long workshop on 11th December, 2012 tried to bring together stakeholders from all over the world to discuss the existing take back models and possible options for India.

Ms.Priti Mahesh, Senior Programme Coordinator, Toxics Link said, “EPR was globally chosen for environmentally safe management of waste. We were hoping that EPR will improve waste flows and bring forth transparency in the system & induce quality recycling. However even 18 months after that rules have been notified we have inadequate collection system, no sonsumer initiative, lack of proper recycling infrastructure, low consumer awareness, inadequate information on take-back in the public domain and no transparency.”

The crisis on E-waste in India is deepened due to prevalent unscientific recycling in the unorganized sector. Improper handling and disposal of this toxic waste led the policy-makers to come up with a separate e-waste rules which was notified in 2011 and came into force on 1st May 2012. E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules 2011, based on EPR principle, has not made any significant change on the ground in the past six months.

Joao Cravinho, Ambassador and Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union of India said, “E-waste in India requires careful handling particularly in the downstream channel. EU has come a long way in E-waste handling and India may take an example from EU. India should adopt a more transparent and harmonized system. As most of the E-waste collection in India is done by the informal sector and thus much of E-waste collection and handling is happening in uncontrolled manner having serious issues of leaching out of toxics and health hazards. Despite the E-waste management and handling rules India is still unclear about the historical waste, its responsibility and the mechanisms required for handling them.”

India is facing a serious challenge as, in spite of the emergence of recycling infrastructure, we continue to struggle in adopting a sustainable waste Collection mechanism.  This could be due to lack of knowledge and capacity on economically feasible and sustainable models suited to the India conditions. Collection or take back systems have been one of the most challenging tasks in implementation of E-waste Rules in developed and developing countries. The policy makers and implementers have been analyzing and engaging with various models globally to draw in the bulk consumers and the individual consumers in the system and to ensure high compliance. The presence of a large informal sector in India further complicates this system, posing serious challenge in creation of clean waste channels.

Sanjiv Kumar, IAS, Chairperson, Delhi Pollution Control Committee said, “By this time kids must have thrown away their mobiles, laptops etc. and it must have gone to the informal sector. We need to think about the issue which is going to become a bigger challenge day by day.”In order to understand some of the systems currently operational in other countries and to analyze those fundamentals that can be suitably adopted in India conditions, Toxics Link proposes to explore and come up with some solutions with the help of National and International experts. The international workshop on “Designing Take Back Systems for E-waste” on 11th December 2012 at India Habitat Centre (IHC), Lodhi Road, New Delhi endeavors to bring together all stakeholders on one platform and discuss the various take back models possible for India.

Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link said, “Designing a take-back system is a serious flaw in India and there are huge gaps which needs to be dealt with and requires concrete mechanisms.”The other eminent speakers were: B.Vinod Babu (Scientist ‘D’& Scientist ‘D’ & Incharge, Hazwaste Division, Central Pollution Control Board), Lars Ekland, Advisor, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Federico Magalini, E-waste Academy Project Manager, United Nations University, Anwar, Shipurwala, Executive Director, MAIT, Silje Johannessen, Advisor, Climate and Pollution Agency, Norway, DK Behera, Senior Enviornmental Scientist, Odisha State Pollution Control Board, Raphael Veit, Managing Director, Sagis Ltd.

B. Vinod Babu explained that there were various models being practiced in other countries which could be adopted in India as well.

More than 100 members from MoEF, Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Corporates like Canon, HP, Whirlphool, Hitachi, Samsung, Del, Mait, Teri, Tes-AMM, Ricoh, Green vortex and bulk user companies, prominent recyclers in the region shared and actively participated during the sessions.