By Prarthana Mitra
The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has announced important changes to its e-waste and biomedical waste management rules, in an effort to formalise the e-waste recycling sector and to make waste management more environmentally sound.
Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan notified the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on March 23 about the modifications to the existing rules and said he hopes that the new regulations will help channel the bulk of e-waste generated by the country’s populace towards authorised dismantlers and recyclers.
New targets and close supervision
Aware of the hazards posed by disorganised e-waste management, the new rules now mandate that Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) be registered with the CPCB, which will ensure that they are directly accountable and their activities are under constant scrutiny of the central pollution watchdog.
The PRO will provide end-to-end solutions to electronic importers and manufacturers who are bound by the ‘extended producer responsibility’ to collect and channel the e-waste from consumers to the authorised receptacle. Furthermore, the collection targets stipulated by the old EPR rules have been augmented to introduce new electronic producers and agents in the market, who have recently begun their operations.
The targets for collection will be implemented in phases, with the revised target being 10% of the quantity of waste generation as indicated in the EPR Plan during 2017-18, and then increasing 10% every year till 2023. From 2023 onwards, the target will be 70% of the quantity of waste generation.
Biomedical waste solutions
The primary waste generators of biomedical solutions-hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and pharmacies- will be obligated to ban the use of hazardous chlorinated plastic bags and gloves within their premises by March next year. The incineration of such products leads to massive air pollution. Health care facilities with less than ten beds will also be required to have a sewage treatment plan in place by the end of this year. In order to set up small-scale sewage treatment plants, development workers and government aid will most likely be dispensed by the centre.
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