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Electronics cos raise concerns over proposed e-waste rules; see high costs in implementing
NEW DELHI: Makers of electronic gadgets and handsets have flagged several challenges in complying with India’s proposed e-waste reduction rules, which require taking back a share of products, including smartphones made several years ago, that are now reaching the end of their useful lives.
Sensitising consumers and trade channels, creating common collecting agencies and centres, and factoring in the cost implications on operations for putting these mechanisms in place have emerged as key concerns after the ministry of environment and forests
(MoEF) issued draft rules on October 31.
Some brands have already begun baking compliance costs into retail prices of phones, washing machines, air conditioners, and other appliances.
“The magnitude and diversity of India is a challenge. It’s also a huge cost. We’re looking at double-digit rupee per kilogram kind of cost, which is significantly high and wasn’t budgeted, but that has to happen,” said Manish Sharma, CEO of Panasonic India and South Asia.
“It’s an immediate liability that’s coming in, but people have started to consider it in the overall pricing ladder,” he added, but did not share the retail price increase for consumers.
Ramesh Vaswani, adviser of corporate affairs at Intex Technologies, said consumers have to be made aware about the rules, going to the extent of recommending penalties if buyers did not return used goods after the end of the defined period. Intex has begun the process of collecting old and used phones and other gadgets at its retail outlets.
Draft rules on ewaste management said that 10% of goods sold over the past few years and nearing the end of life must be collected by companies within this fiscal.
Industry insiders say the rules, albeit at draft level until December-end, would have the strongest bearing on the mobile phone industry as it sells arguably the largest volume of goods among electronic items, and faces the toughest challenge as a handset is sold four to five times before it’s dumped as scrap.
“The unorganised sector has to be brought into the loop for this scheme to work,” Intex’s Vaswani added, when asked about the management of used mobile phones. The rules, which put the onus of handling e-waste on the makers of electronic goods, apply prospectively and retrospectively.
The industry has raised the problem of accounting for the products in the years gone by, besides the addition of incremental cost of managing the collection of used electronic goods, and their reuse and disposal, referred to as reverse logistics.