New e-waste rules threaten jobs, collection network
- Currently, e-waste or electronic goods past their service dates are dismantled and viable working parts refurbished, with the rest making their way into chemical dismantling units.
- Many of these units are run out of unregulated sweatshops that employ child labour and hazardous extraction techniques.
- This electronic detritus contaminates soil and aggravates plastic pollution.
What government has done to address this
- The Environment Ministry brought the E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016, which introduced a system of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
- Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) is a concept under which producers of a commodity are tasked with the treatment or disposal of products post-consumption.
The effectiveness of E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016.
- Most companies however did not maintain an in-house unit in charge of recycling and this gave rise to a network of government-registered companies, called producer responsibility organisations (PRO).
What are PROs
- PROs act as an intermediary between manufacturers of electronic goods and formal recycling units and are technologically equipped to recycle end-of-life electronic goods safely and efficiently.
- The PROs typically bid for contracts from companies and arrange for specified quantities of goods to be recycled and provide companies certified proof of recycling that they then maintain as part of their records.
- They are also involved in consumer awareness and enabling a supply chain for recycled goods.
- As per WHO, as many as 12.9 million women are working in the informal waste sector globally, which exposes them to toxic e-waste and puts them and their unborn children at risk.
- Potential adverse health effects include negative birth outcomes, such as stillbirth and premature births, as well as low birth weight and length.
- Other adverse child health impacts linked to e-waste include changes in lung function, respiratory and respiratory effects, DNA damage, impaired thyroid function and increased risk of some chronic diseases later in life, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- The Environment Ministry estimated 7.7 lakh tonnes of e-waste to have been generated in 2018-19 and around one million tonnes in 2019-20 of which only a fifth (about 22% in both years) has been confirmed to be “dismantled and recycled”.
Source The Hindu