New e-waste rules threaten jobs, collection network

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New e-waste rules threaten jobs, collection network

  • A proposed framework by Centre for regulating e-waste in India has upset a key link of India’s electronic waste collection system and threatens the livelihood of thousands of people.

E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016

  • It introduced a system of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) compelling makers of electronic goods to ensure a proportion of goods they sold every year was recycled.
  • They are expected to maintain records annually demonstrating this.
  • Most companies however did not maintain an in-house unit in charge of recycling.
  • This gave rise to a network of government-registered companies, called producer responsibility organisations (PRO).
  • It acted as an intermediary between manufacturers of electronic goods and formal recycling units.
  • They were technologically equipped to recycle end-of-life electronic goods safely and efficiently.

The associated concern with draft rule

  • Recently Ministry issued a draft notification that does away with PROs and dismantlers.
  • It vests all responsibility of recycling with authorised recyclers, only a handful of which exist in India.
  • Recyclers will source a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate electronic certificates.
  • Companies can buy these certificates equivalent to their annual committed target and thus do not have to be involved with engaging the PROs and dismantlers.
  • Several PROs have objected agaisnt these rules arguing that dismantling a fledgling system was detrimental to future of e-waste management in India.

Centre’s stand

  • Centre has not explained its rationale for dismantling the existing system.
  • The new rules would improve accountability as it would rely on an electronic management system that would track the material that went in for recycling with output claimed by a recycler when they claimed GST (Goods and Services Tax) input credit.
  • It incentivises to invest in a dependable supply chain that will collect and recycle waste.
  • System managed by PRO isn’t always reliable as there have been several instances of double-counting.


  • Proposed rules shifted responsibility for controlling e-waste away from producers of goods to recyclers.
  • There were too few recyclers across India and predominant in big cities and in the absence of dismantlers, goods would now have to travel greater distances to be recycled.

Prelims take away

  • E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
  • Types of E- waste