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Government drafts new waste management norms
With the intention to implement waste management policies effectively, the environment ministry has come out with four separate draft rules for managing municipal solid waste, e-waste (computers, mobiles or other electronic/electrical gadgets), plastic waste and medical waste. It has also sought opinion of public/experts/stakeholders within 60 days before fine-tuning and notifying those rules for implementation across the country.

Draft rules have specified certain dos and don'ts for waste generators (both domestic and commercial), manufacturers, producers, consumers, collection centres, dealers, dismantlers and recyclers. Though the government currently has rules to manage such waste, the idea behind this move is to bring clarity on many issues so that urban local bodies can implement it as per existing bye-laws. The proposed rules also clearly define terms and conditions that were previously left ambiguous.

According to an official, the new rules on solid waste management have for the first time defined ‘sanitary waste’ (used diapers, sanitary towels or napkins, tampons and condoms) and specified how it should be disposed off. He also mentioned that how such an important point was earlier missing as a separate solid waste sub-category in previous rules. Rules on solid waste management also clearly specify that no waste generator will be allowed to throw the waste generated by him or her on the street, open spaces, drain or water bodies. "All waste generators shall pay such user fee or charge or fines, as may be specified in the bye-laws of civic bodies for solid waste management," says the draft.

Specifying responsibilities of managing e-waste, the rules say that the producers can take the responsibility of e-waste management either individually or collectively. They will be expected to provide contact details such as address, telephone numbers or helpline number of collection center to consumers so as to facilitate return of used electrical and electronic equipment.

Moreover, manufacturers/producers will also be required to create a 'Deposit Refund Scheme' wherein a portion of sale price shall be retained by producer and refundable to the consumer once the 'end of life products' are channelised in prescribed manner. Similarly, the responsibilities of consumers will be to channelise e-waste generated by them to authorised collection center or registered dismantler or to return it to the pick-up or take back services provided by the producers.

The draft rules specify that the bulk consumers will be required to maintain records of e-waste generated by them and make such records available for scrutiny by the respective State Pollution Control Board in different states. They will also be required to ensure that 'end of life electrical and electronic equipment' do not contain radioactive material as covered under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act 1962 (33 of 1962).

In case of plastic waste, the draft norms would apply to waste generator, urban local body, gram panchayat, manufacturer and producer. These rules, however, will not apply to the export oriented units or units in special economic zones, and units engaged in packaging of ‘gutkha', tobacco and pan masala and also to any surplus or rejects, left over products and alike.

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