The new rules governing electronic waste (e-waste) that came into effect on Tuesday make it illegal for you to dump your old mobile phone into the bin or sell parts of a personal computer to the scrap dealer.
According to e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, consumers will have to route their e-waste to recycling units for scientific dismantling and recycling. This is to be done through collection points established by the product manufacturers.
At present, there is no mechanism to track down and penalise consumers who do not recycle e-waste. “Predicting the amount of waste generated and collection of non-branded electronic goods is a challenge... The new mechanism will take time to evolve,” said Yeshwant Sontakke, joint director, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board. Placing the onus of handling and recycling e-waste largely on the manufacturer, the new rules specify that 'extended producer responsibility' (EPR) will be the driving force behind the new mechanism. Under the rules, the manufacturers will have to provide information on safe handling and consequences of improper handling, accidental breakage damage and improper recycling of the end of life product. This information can be provided with the product information booklet or on the website.
Establishing collection points for gathering e-waste and overseeing the dismantling and recycling process is also an added responsibility on the producers. Manufacturers will attract fines if they don't comply with EPR.
Environmentalists doubt that the new rules will change consumer attitudes. “If you ask around, hardly anyone knows that e-waste can be returned to the manufacturer.
Lack of awareness among consumers will hamper the change that the new rules expect to usher in,” said Satish Sinha, associate director, Toxics Link, a non-profit organisation.