New Delhi: The environment ministry on Wednesday notified norms for producers of electronic goods, making them responsible for collection of e-waste generated.

Called the E-Waste Management Rules 2016, the norms will replace those notified in 2011.

The new rules also have provision for financial penalty for damage caused to ecology and any third party due to improper management of e-waste.

They also bring producers under the so-called extended producer responsibility (EPR) concept. EPR in waste management aims to include the environmental costs associated with goods throughout their lifecycle into the prices of products.

Under EPR, producers will have to set targets over the next few years for collection of e-waste.

“Norms have been made more stringent and reflect the government’s commitment to environmental governance. Producers have been made responsible for collection of e-waste and for its exchange," said environment minister Prakash Javadekar while announcing the new rules on Wednesday.

The new e-waste rules will include compact fluorescent lamps and other mercury-containing lamps as well as other such equipment, the minister said. Producers will have to ensure a waste-collection mechanism under which they will set up collection centres and points and a take-back system. “Bulk consumers must collect the items and hand them over to authorized recyclers," added Javadekar.

As per official estimates, India generates 17 lakh tonnes of e-waste a year, and it is rising at the rate of 5% a year.

The new rules stipulate that state governments must ensure the safety, health and skill development of workers involved in dismantling and recycling operations.

“Department of labour in the state or any other government agency authorized in this regard by the state government needs to ensure recognition and registration of workers involved in dismantling and recycling, assist formation of groups of such workers to facilitate setting up dismantling facilities, undertake industrial skill development activities for the workers involved in dismantling and recycling, undertake annual monitoring to ensure safety and health of workers involved in dismantling and recycling," the rules stipulated.

The process of dismantling and recycling has been simplified with the Central Pollution Control Board giving a single authorization throughout the country, Javadekar added.

Environment activists welcomed the new rules.

“Under the new rules, the government has strengthened the EPR concept and set targets. Also, importantly, the lighting industry has been brought under its ambit and that is a significant addition. The major point is that all the new rules are pushing the EPR concept," said Ravi Agarwal, director at Toxics Link, a Delhi-based non-profit working on environmental issues.

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