By - King Stubb & Kasiva on May 10, 2023
India ranks as the third-largest producer of electronic waste (e-waste) globally. In the fiscal year 2021-22, India generated around 1.6 million tonnes of e-waste, but only 0.5 million tonnes were collected and processed. This amount of waste is expected to increase significantly due to the rising use of electronic devices, solar panels, and electric vehicles, as India moves towards a digital economy, renewable energy, and electric mobility. To address this pressing issue, the Indian government has introduced the E-Waste Management Rules, 2022, replacing the 2016 E-Waste Management Rules. These new rules came into effect on April 1, 2023, and include several crucial changes aimed at promoting environmentally sound e-waste management practices.
The previous E-Waste Management Rules of 2016 applied to a wide range of entities involved in the manufacturing, sale, transfer, purchase, collection, storage, and processing of e-waste or electrical and electronic equipment listed in Schedule I . However, the new E-Waste Management Rules of 2022, which came into effect on April 1, 2023, have narrowed down the scope of its provisions.
The new rules only apply to manufacturers, producers, refurbishers, dismantlers, and recyclers involved in the manufacture, sale, transfer, purchase, refurbishing, dismantling, recycling, and processing of e-waste or electrical and electronic equipment listed in Schedule I. It appears that the government intends to improve regulatory oversight over the e-waste ecosystem by regulating a limited number of entities that have a significant role in it.
The 2016 Rules were limited in their coverage, encompassing only 21 types of electrical and electronic equipment categorized as information technology and telecommunication equipment and consumer electricals and electronics. The 2022 Rules have broadened their ambit to include over 100 types of equipment classified under seven distinct categories listed in Schedule I ("Covered Items"). The newly added equipment includes timely and relevant items such as tablets, GPS, modems, electronic storage devices, solar photovoltaic panels/cells/modules, air purifiers, leisure and sports equipment, medical devices, laboratory instruments, and more.
The previous E-Waste Management Rules of 2016 required producers to obtain authorization from the Central Pollution Control Board ("CPCB"). Manufacturers, refurbishers, dismantlers, and recyclers, on the other hand, needed authorization from the relevant State Pollution Control Board ("SPCB") or Union Territory Pollution Control Committee ("UTPCC").
However, the new E-Waste Management Rules of 2022 require all regulated entities, including manufacturers, producers, refurbishers, and recyclers, to register themselves on the CPCB's online portal. Under the 2022 Rules, no entity falling under these categories can operate without registration, and they cannot engage in any business with an unregistered entity.
The 2022 Rules have clarified the definition of a producer, which now includes a person who manufactures and sells Covered Items under their own brand, offers to sell assembled Covered Items under their own brand, offers to sell imported Covered Items, or imports used Covered Items. The 2016 Rules required producers to follow extended producer responsibility (EPR) by channelizing e-waste for environmentally sound management through appropriate mechanisms. The 2022 Rules have modified the EPR framework and require producers to meet their recycling targets as per Schedule III and IV only through registered e-waste recyclers to ensure the environmentally sound management of such waste.
The recycling targets for producers have been prescribed in Schedule III and IV from the years 2023-24 onwards. Producers must fulfil their EPR targets by purchasing EPR certificates online only from registered e-waste recyclers and submitting them by filing quarterly returns on the CPCB portal. These certificates will be generated for recyclers and refurbishers based on the number of Covered Items processed by them. Recycling certificates will offset a producer's EPR targets while refurbishing certificates will only defer them.
Producers can purchase EPR certificates up to a total of their current year's liability, the leftover liability of preceding years, and 5% of the current year's liability. The 2016 Rules did not provide a detailed EPR mechanism. Non-compliance with these provisions will result in environmental compensation and prosecution under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986.
The 2022 Rules outline specific obligations for individuals or entities manufacturing or producing solar photo-voltaic modules, panels, or cells. Such entities must register on the CPCB portal, maintain an inventory of these items on the same portal, and follow CPCB guidelines for e-waste storage until 2034-35. They must also submit annual returns through the online portal. Additionally, the CPCB will issue guidelines regardingthe storage and recovery of materials from the recycling of e-waste generated by these entities. The 2016 Rules did not include provisions regarding these specific responsibilities.
The 2016 Rules had two categories for e-waste management - consumer and bulk consumer, with the latter including government departments, educational institutions, companies, and other juridical persons. Both categories were required to segregate e-waste and send it to authorized dismantlers or recyclers. Bulk consumers had to maintain records of e-waste and file annual returns with the relevant SPCB or UTPCC.
However, the E-Waste Management Rules, 2022 define 'bulk consumer' under Rule 3(1)(b) as an entity that has used a minimum of one thousand units of electrical and electronic equipment listed in Schedule I at any time in the particular financial year, including e-retailers. They are now required to hand over their e-waste only to registered producers, refurbishes, or recyclers. The 2022 Rules have removed the requirement for separate compliance documents and the consumer category.
The 2022 Rules introduced by the Indian government are a much-needed step towards addressing the growing issue of e-waste in the country. These new rules replace the previous 2016 Rules and expand the scope of entities regulated, provide a detailed extended producer responsibility mechanism, and mandate registration on an online portal. These rules are particularly relevant with the expansion of renewable energy and digital technologies in India.
The 2022 Rules are expected to provide real-time data on e-waste generated from a wider range of equipment, which will help the government to formulate more effective policies and regulations to manage e-waste. Additionally, the streamlined regulatory requirements for regulated persons will facilitate ease of compliance.
However, there are concerns to be addressed such as the role of the informal sector and the potential burden placed on authorized recyclers for all responsibility for recycling and data updating. It is important to address these issues to ensure effective and sustainable e-waste management in India.
The 2022 Rules regulate manufacturers, producers, refurbishers, and recyclers of electrical and electronic equipment listed in Schedule I. These entities are required to register on the CPCB's online portal and meet their recycling targets as per Schedule III and IV only through registered e-waste recyclers to ensure the environmentally sound management of such waste.
Producers are required to purchase EPR certificates online only from registered e-waste recyclers and submit them by filing quarterly returns on the CPCB portal. These certificates will be generated for recyclers and refurbished based on the number of Covered Items processed by them. Recycling certificates will offset a producer's EPR targets while refurbishing certificates will only defer them. Producers can purchase EPR certificates up to a total of their current year’s liability, the leftover liability of preceding years, and 5% of the current year’s liability.
The 2022 Rules are an important step towards addressing the growing issue of e-waste in India. They expand the scope of covered items and provide real-time data on e-waste, which was not fully covered under the 2016 Rules. The rules also streamline regulatory requirements for regulated entities such as registration and compliance reporting, in line with other waste management legislation. This will facilitate ease of compliance and help in ensuring environmentally sound management of e-waste.
Press Information Bureau. 'Press Release: Extension of timelines for compliances under the Income-tax Act, 1961 in view of the pandemic', Government of India, Ministry of Finance, 20 May 2021 https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1881761 accessed 3rd May 2023.
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, 'The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016', Government of India, 23 March 2016 https://greene.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/EWM-Rules-2016-english-23.03.2016.pdf accessed 3rd May 2023.
The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 (S.O. 1035(E), 2016) (India), Schedule I.
The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2021 (G.S.R. 898(E), 2021) (India), Schedule III, Schedule IV.
The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022 (G.S.R. 129(E), 2022) (India), Rule 3(1)(b), Schedule I.
King Stubb & Kasiva,
Advocates & Attorneys
Click Here to Get in Touch
New Delhi | Mumbai | Bangalore | Chennai | Hyderabad | Mangalore | Pune | Kochi | Kolkata
Tel: +91 11 41032969 | Email: email@example.com