Why the Haste to Enforce E-Waste Rules: Producers Struggle to Comply Amidst Lack of Clarity and Infrastructure

APRIL 19, 2023 [Tax India Online]

By Anshul Mittal, Partner at RSA Legal Solutions

THE E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, which came into effect from 1st April 2023, require producers of electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) to register with CPCB on the EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) Portal. However, the portal is under upgradation and is expected to be operationalized only by 30th April 2023.

The CPCB has issued a letter to the Joint Secretary of the Custom department dated 13th April, 2023, requesting the release of imported consignments of producers of 85 EEE items (ITEW 17 to ITEW 27, CEEW 6 to CEEW 19, LSEEW 1 to LSEEW 34, EETW 1 to EETW 8, TLSEW 1 to TLSEW 6, MDW 1 to MDW 10 and LIW 1 to LIW 2) after taking an undertaking from the Producers (which includes Importers) as defined in the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022. The undertaking should be submitted at the email id (ewaste2.cpcb@gov.in) and the producers should also submit the computerized and online generated EPR Registration Certificate from the online portal concerned of CPCB not later than one month from the date of submission of the undertaking.

Despite the government’s best efforts, the system is not yet online and neither is there any clarity on how the portal will work nor have any guidelines been issued. The government has not even provided a Q&A session to address the concerns of the industry. Despite all these limitations, the government is asking for compliance from the industry within one month of undertaking. The haste in implementing these rules without providing adequate infrastructure and guidelines is questionable.

The government should have provided more time and clarity to the producers before enforcing the rules. This would have given the industry time to prepare and would have enabled them to comply with the rules without any difficulties. The government should also provide detailed guidelines and FAQs to assist the producers in complying with the rules. Without such guidelines, the producers may find it challenging to comply with the rules, which could lead to delays and confusion.

While the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, are essential in regulating the import and disposal of electronic waste in India, the short notice to the producers has caused confusion and stress. The government has failed to provide the online system on time, leaving producers with no option to comply with the regulations. This has put a burden on the producers who are already dealing with challenges related to supply chain disruptions and rising costs.

It is essential for the government to provide a reasonable timeline for the implementation of new regulations and ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place before imposing new requirements on the industry. This will help to avoid disruptions in the supply chain and ensure that businesses can comply with regulations in a timely and efficient manner.

Moreover, the lack of clarity on the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, has caused confusion among producers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who may not have the resources to navigate the complex requirements. SMEs may struggle to comply with the regulations due to their limited resources, and this could lead to non-compliance and penalties, further affecting their business operations.

Additionally, the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, require producers to collect and recycle a specific percentage of electronic waste generated by their products. However, there is no clarity on how this will be implemented or how the cost of recycling will be shared among producers. This could lead to higher costs for producers, which may ultimately be passed on to consumers.

Furthermore, the lack of infrastructure to manage electronic waste in India is a significant challenge, and the government needs to invest in developing a robust e-waste management system. This would require significant investment in waste collection, recycling, and disposal infrastructure, as well as building awareness and education programs to encourage individuals and businesses to recycle their electronic waste responsibly.

In conclusion, while the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, are a step in the right direction to address the growing problem of electronic waste in India, the government needs to ensure that the regulations are implemented in a way that does not cause undue hardship to producers. The government must provide adequate support and infrastructure to help producers comply with the rules and this must be done in a way that does not negatively impact their business operations. Only then can we ensure that electronic waste is managed responsibly and sustain ably, protecting both the environment and human health.

[The views expressed are strictly personal.]

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