Legal Path Towards Circular Economy in E-Waste


  • Electronic waste, abbreviated as ‘e-waste’ is a term used to explain old, end-of-life digital appliances including computers, laptops, TV’s, radios, refrigerators etc., that have been discarded by users. E-waste contains of numerous valuable however dangerous materials that may cause an damaging impact on human health. Recycling e-waste may be risky if not achieved using appropriate techniques and measures.
  • The quantity of waste electric and digital equipment (extensively called WEEE or e-waste) generated each year in the EU is growing rapidly. It is now one of the quickest developing waste streams.
  • CIRCULAR ECONOMY: E-WASTE– Electronic gadgets and electric system, from household appliances to small networks of solar panels or ‘smart’ phones and different ITC products, deliver large advantages to humanity and offer new possibilities for improvement. These are valuable equipment for society, for increased welfare, extension of education, provision of best health care services, facilitating trade, in addition to addressing demanding situations generated through weather change. Digitization and making sure large-scale connectivity also are crucial for attaining the 17 sustainable development objectives. But, on their complete value chain, from the extraction of valuable ores (iron, copper, gold, etc.), included in the composition of electronic products, to their production, transport, retail sale, consumption and removal from the circuit, there are massive portions of wasted resources, and the gadget generates many poor effects and a strong ecological footprint. Electronic and electric system disposed of contain potentially harming materials, which pollute the surroundings and growth health dangers for the ones operating in the subject of recycling. Every year, about 50 million heaps of digital and electrical waste (e-waste) are produced globally, the equivalent in weight of all industrial aircraft ever built.


  • Despite the fact that there are regulations to administer to disposal and management of E-waste in India, there is no proper implementation of these legislations.
  • The legislation executed by the government of India are: –
  • The hazardous waste (management and handling) Amendment rules, 2003[1];
  • Guidelines for environmentally sound management of e-waste, 2008[2]; And
  • The e-waste (management and handling) rules, 2011.
  • Following the Supreme Court directions, the state has announced a set of hazardous waste Laws and built a number of hazardous waste disposal facilities in the past 10 years.
  • However, the CAG report found that over 75% of the state bodies are not implementing this law.


  • The Policy shall deal with all troubles starting from manufacturing and exchange to very last disposal, inclusive of technology transfers for the recycling of electronic waste. Clear regulatory instruments, adequate to control each legal and unlawful exports and imports of e-wastes and making sure their environmentally sound management need to be in place. There is likewise a need to deal with the loop holes withinside the prevailing legal frame work to make certain that e-wastes from evolved nations aren’t attaining the country for disposal. The Port and the Custom government want to screen those aspects. The policies need to restrict the disposal of e-wastes in municipal landfills and inspire owners and mills of e-wastes to well recycle the wastes. Manufactures of merchandise need to be made financially, physically and legally answerable for their merchandise.


  • BASEL CONVENTION- During the 1970s and 1980s, environmental policies in industrialized countries were on the rise as were costs for getting rid of unsafe waste. Some corporations shipped their unsafe waste remote places wherein it was dumped, spilled, or improperly handled. This brought about intense health troubles or even deaths, poisoned the environment, and brought about a public outcry to prevent those practices.
  • Basel Convention- The Basel Convention at the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their demolition was accepted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992.
  • Regulation of transboundary movement of unsafe and other different wastes which includes a “Prior Informed Consent” procedure.


  • Looking to growing issues of e-waste, the Central Government in the exercise of the powers supplied below Sections 6, 8 and 25 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 has notified these guidelines. E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 overruled the E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. It includes 24 guidelines divided in Six Chapters and four Schedules. The guidelines targets to allow the restoration and/or reuse of useful material from e-waste, thereby decreasing the dangerous wastes destined for disposal and to make certain the environmentally sound management of all types of waste of electrical and electronic equipment. These guidelines shall come into force from 1stOctober, 2016.
  • These rules shall apply to each Producer, Consumer and Bulk Consumer, Manufacturer, collection centers, dealers, e-retailer, refurbished, dismantler and recycler involved in the manufacture, sale, purchase and processing of electrical and digital equipment, which include their components, consumables, parts and spares which make the product operational however shall now no longer follow to-
  • Used lead acid batteries as covered under the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001 made under the Act;
  • Micro businesses as described in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006 (27 of 2006); and
  • Radio-active wastes as included under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (33 of 1962) and Rules made there under.
  • The applicability of the guidelines has been extended to components, consumables, spares and elements of EEE (ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT) in addition to device Option has been given for setting up of PRO[3], e – waste exchange, e – retailer, Deposit Refund Scheme as extra channel for implementation of EPR[4] through Producers to make certain green channelization of e – waste. The e – waste exchange as an alternative has been supplied withinside the guidelines as an impartial market instrument providing help or impartial electronic systems offering services on the market and purchase of e – waste generated from end – of – life electric and digital device among companies or companies accepted under those guidelines. State Government to put together integrated plan for powerful implementation of those provisions, and to submit annual report to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC)[5]. The transportation of e – waste will be performed as per the manifest system wherein the transporter will be required to hold a document (3 copies) organized by the sender, giving the details.


  • The change in policies has been carried out with the goal of channelizing the E-waste generated in the economy towards certified demolishers and recyclers in order to establish the e-waste recycling Zone.  The collection goals under the provision of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the Rules had been revised and objectives had been added for new manufacturers who’ve started their sales operations recently.


  • The e-waste collection goals under EPR had been revised and will be applicable from 1 October 2017. The phase-wise series goals for e-waste in weight shall be 10% of the amount of waste generation as illustrated in the EPR Plan for the years of 2017-18, with a 10 per cent growth every year until the year of 2023. After 2023, the goal has been made 70 percent of the total amount of waste generation as illustrated in the EPR Plan.
  • The amount of e-waste accrued through manufacturers from the 1st of October 2016 until 30th of September 2017 will be accounted for in the revised EPR targets till March 2018.
  • Other e-waste What collection targets were prepared for the new manufacturers, that is, those manufacturers whose number of years of sales of operation is lesser than the common lives in their products. The average life of the product could be as rendering to the instructions given to CPCB (Central pollution control board) from time to time.
  • Producer responsibility organizations (PROs) must follow the CPCB (Central pollution control board) for enrolment to adopt activities recommended in the rules.


  • If the largest E-Waste is dismantled and processing crude manner, it’s poisonous components can wreak havoc at the human body.
  • Process such as dismantling the components, wet chemical processing and in creation are used to dump the waste and result in direct exposure and inhalation of harmful chemicals.
  • Safety system consisting of gloves and mask aren’t extensively used and employees lack the knowledge and experience that is required to perform their jobs. In addition to this, Manual extraction of poisonous metals ends in entering off risky material in the bloodstream of the person doing so. The health risks range from kidney and liver harm to neurological disorder. Recycling of E-WASTE scrap is polluting the water, soil and air.
  • Toxic chemicals that have no economic value or simply Dumped during the recycling process, these toxic chemical leash into underground aquifer Thereby degrading the neighborhood groundwater quality and rendering the water undeserving for human intake as well as agricultural purposes.
  • Very recent studies on recycling of e-waste have pointed towards increasing concentrations of various chemicals and heavy metals in the surface soil of the four metro cities of India which are new Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai where waste is being processed by the informal sectors.
  • Challenges faced by the developing countries in an e-waste management include: –
  • A scarcity of infrastructure for suitable waste management, and lack of law dealing mainly with e-waste, an absence of any framework for end-of-life product (ELP) take-back or implementation of extended producer responsibility (EPR).


  • LAWS to manage the E-Waste has been implemented in India since 2011, Authorizing that only the certified dismantlers and recyclers to collect e-waste. E-waste (Management)Rules, 2016 was executed on October 1, 2017. Over 21 products were included under the scope of the rule.
  • The rule additionally prolonged its purview to components or consumables or parts or spares of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE), along with their products. The rule has reinforced the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), that is the worldwide best exercise to make sure the take-back of the end-of-life products.
  • A new association known as Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) has been brought to reinforce EPR further. The manufacturers ought to meet targets, which must be 20 percent of the waste generated through their sales. This will increase by 10 percent yearly for the following 5 years. The regulation additionally says that the duty of manufacturers isn’t always limited to waste collection, however additionally to make sure that the waste reaches the approved recycler/dismantler.
  • Regardless of new regulations which have come into area to safely process this unsafe material, near eighty per cent of e-waste — old laptops and cell phones, cameras and air conditioners, televisions and LED lamps — remains damaged down, at large health and environmental cost polluting ground water and soil, through the casual sector.
  • E-waste is developing at a compound annual increase rate (CAGR) of approximately 30 per cent in the country.


  • The first development of E-Waste was done internationally in 1989 when the Basel convention came into existence, its Keen purpose is to reduce the amount of hazardous waste from developed to less of non-developed countries.
  • The convention makes sure the environment is of sound management and is free of toxic and hazardous waste.
  • The basal convention had an oblique software on e-waste because of the presence of poisonous and unsafe substances till then.
  • The basal convention had already started to address issues on E-Waste in 2002 through the endorsement of MPPI[6] (the mobile phone partnership initiative).
  • Running alongside, at the national level, the EPA[7] (environment protection act) Came into existence in 1986 for the protection and improvement and also for the prevention of threat to human beings, other living creatures.
  • After all this is the first extensive regulation to deal with the issues of E-waste were issued by the central Government around in July 1989, here in referred as hazardous waste (management and handling) rules 1989, Enclosed under the provisions of environment protection act, 1986.
  • However, the prescribed rules of 1989 faced certain fundamental limitations.
  • Due to this issue, amendments for those rules were released in the year 2000, 2003 and the final notification of the hazardous waste rules, 2008(management, handling and transboundary movement).
  • Later on, in the year of 2005 a Private member had introduced ‘The electronic waste (handling and disposal) Bill’ In the Parliament of India, which expired in July, 2010.
  • This bill denounced the improper way of disposal of the e-waste which is harmful to the human health and for the environment and called for regulation for the same.
  • In consequence, to tackle with this concern of disposal and recycling of a waste, the MoEFCC (Ministry of environment, Forest and climate change), Announced a set of regulations known as electronic waste (management and handling) rules in 2011, Under the section 6 of EPA (Environment protection act), 1986.
  • These rules were to ensure safe and environment friendly management, recycling of E-Waste, transporting, storing and also to decrease the usage of hazardous substances during manufacturing of electrical equipment.
  • Later on, E-Waste Rules have been revised in 2016 and became E-waste (Management) rules, 2016.
  • The concept of EPR (Extended producer liability) To ensure safe disposal of electronic goods.
  • Judiciary has played a crucial role in developing the environmental Constitution in India.




Issues related to the disposal of a waste and the Black Powder has been generated in the process. The matter has been dealt with this Tribunal in earlier orders.

On 10.09.2018 The tribunal had considered the report of CPCB, that illegal and scientific disposal of e-waste was taking place in violation of hazardous and other e-waste (Management and transboundary movement) Rules,2016. Various chemicals for fountain Ramganga river After screening. It was stated that despite repeated orders the district administration was not being able to handle the situation.

Subsequently the chief secretary, Uttar Pradesh, was been directed to monitor the steps to be taken in the interest of public health and to report compliance to Tribunal.

On 16.10.2018, the compliance report has been furnished by the chief secretary, Uttar Pradesh, was considered. The report had stated that the plan action was prepared and timelines were laid down.

Stage one-Provided for temporary storage

Stage two-provider for permanent treatment and disposal of TSDFC (treatment storage disposal facility).

Direction Was issued to take further steps information interim report.

Interim report has been received on 08.01.2019, stating that the work has been allowed to Sangam Mediserve Private and The State pollution control board (UPSPCB) and granted a consent to establish.

EIA (Environment impact assessment)[9] has been undertaken. Further progress report has been handed over stating that the process for public consultation is being undertaken.

Learned counsel for the UPPCB States that all the steps that are required in the matter shall be completed before 08.02.2019. The CPCB[10] has issued a MOP in this matter.

In the matter stated above, the Matter may now be listed for further consideration on 08.03.19 instead of the earlier schedule date.

For the progress report to be filed before the next date.


  • The ASSOCHAM Report (2017) advise that the authorities might also additionally study collaboration with the enterprise to attract out formal/standard operating method and a phased method toward the agenda of reducing e-waste to the lowest.
  • Alternatively, the government may also refer methods accepted by other countries for adequate assortment and recycling of E-waste.
  • Formation of start-ups associated with e-waste recycling and dumping should be aided by giving special privilege.
  • It is high time that government takes up proactive initiative to recycle and dispose of E-waste safely to protect the environment and ensure the well-being of general public and other living organisms.
  • The citizens play a crucial role in e-waste management, the people generally throw many small electronics along with other waste and many of them tend burn that gathered waste.
  • A number of hazardous substances are released in the process which we breathe.
  • All the producers and collection centers of the materials must mention their address, Delhi mobile number and their email address on the material which should be clearly visible to the customers.
  • The producers much to manufacture the products in a way that it uses the least amount of hazardous material
  • Everyone must use non-renewable Materials Which are safer and in turn can be repaired, upgradable and reuse, it is the best method to ensure reduction of e-waste.
  • Consumers must buy the products which are only energy efficient
  • The e-waste must not be dumped with Other household garbage.
  • The producers and manufacturers must give a handbook which contains the details of hazardous effects, contact details of the manufacturer, dismantle or comedy handling measure, the guidelines to avoid e-waste to consumers or bulk consumers along with the electronic equipment.
  • The unloading of e-waste must be done in a way that there should be no damage to the health, the environment and to the product itself.
  • The refurbishing must be properly ventilated and sanitized and must have proper dust control equipment.
  • There are presently only a few rules at the disposal of E-Waste and they may be being allowed to go into our landfills or be burned. We are willingly permitting risky materials to leach into our water and air in order that we might also additionally revel in a brand-new shape of era. This trouble isn’t going to head away due to the fact the worldwide population is developing and the call for more modern and higher era is growing vast quantities of antique and old electronics.


E-waste recycling is essential however it have to be carried out in a secure and standardized manor. When possible, e-waste should be refurbished and reused as an entire product instead of dismantled. When refurbishment is not possible, e-waste has to be dismantled through trained, protected, and well-compensated workers in technologically superior e-waste recycling centers in both developed and growing countries. There are numerous essential ideas from which all e-waste law has to be primarily based totally on. First, appropriate risk thresholds for hazardous, secondary e-waste materials have to know no longer be extraordinary for growing and evolved countries. However, the appropriate thresholds have to be extraordinary for youngsters and adults given the bodily variations and said vulnerabilities of youngsters. Completely disposing of the presence of toxic components in EEE, despite the fact that efficient, isn’t realistic. Although there are research needs, educational and awareness programs on the potential risks of e-waste recycling additionally have to be evolved and implemented. These programs are of important significance in growing countries. Improving occupational conditions for all e-waste people and striving for the eradication of child labor is non-negotiable. Interventions need to be particular to the local culture, the geography, and the limitations of the particularly inclined communities. Policies that would offer incentives to sell safe, regulated, and recompensed recycling for e-waste need to be universal.

While formal dismantlers and recyclers are aware about the health and environmental troubles surrounding e-waste, the casual collectors, buyers, dismantlers and recyclers working with e-waste are regularly either unaware of the troubles or do not see the need to act upon them. The creditors don’t have any cause to extrude anything, as their enterprise causes harm neither to the surroundings nor to health. The same applies to the waste traders who regularly do not even see the waste however instead coordinate the waste flow. The troubles have an effect on informal dismantlers and recyclers most. As a result, the severity of the environmental and health risks relies upon very much at the processes applied. While the people are regularly aware about the troubles, they’re not able to change anything. Due to the unlawful nature in their business, they don’t have any opportunity to make certain that the e-waste is recycled in an environmentally and health friendly way. The awareness amongst manufactures has improved during the last couple of years. Until currently the producing enterprise turned into very reluctant to associate itself with the hassle and well known its responsibility. A study performed with the aid of using Greenpeace India in 2008 assessed which producers had a take-back policy in place and real take-back structures in operation. Of the 20 monitored manufacturers, 9 had no take-back service in place. Several had simplest one collection centre or limited the take-back to at least one product (e.g. mobile phones). Moreover, the bulk of the manufacturers had no information on their take-back systems on their web sites and none of them had spent a large amount of cash on raising awareness. There are no recommendations given to purchaser or bulk purchaser for the managing of electrical and digital equipment. Also there are prolonged tactics in case of monetary penalty pay in case of violation of regulations mentioned under E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016.

[1] The Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 (as amended, May, 2003)(08/06/2021, 12:21 PM)

[2] Guidelines for environmentally sound management of e-waste, 2008, E-WASTE MANAGEMENT, (08/06/2021, 12:24 PM)






[8] MAHENDRA PANDEY V. UNION OF INDIA (OA. NO. 621/2018(M.A. 1505/2018)) (JAN 16, 2019)



Author: Manasa Reddy from ICFAI University.

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