India Enacts RoHS & WEEE Legislation: Who’s Next?

Producers and distributors of electrical and electronic equipment take notice: India is the latest country to enact RoHS and WEEE legislation. Hazardous substance and electronic waste legislation is here to stay and is expanding worldwide.

RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substance) legislation was previously enacted in the European Union, Japan, China, Korea, and California. WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) legislation was enacted in the EU, Korea, 25 US states, and five Canadian provinces.

India is now on the list, and its new legislation (covering both RoHS and WEEE requirements) is known as the E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. India's WEEE requirements will take effect in May 2012, and its RoHS requirements two years later. The requirements are similar to the EU's requirements.

India has long been plagued by the problem of backyard recycling. India's new legislation is a bold attempt to address that problem. I recently spoke with A. S. Sadashivaiah, chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. He told me the challenges for his country will be in establishing and authorizing sufficient electronic waste recycling facilities, and with enforcement.

The new waste rule will significantly change the way electronic waste is handled in India. Producers, collection centers, dismantlers, and recyclers, to remain operating, will have to apply for a government-issued “Grant of Authorization” by July 31, 2012. Onsite storage of electronic waste will be limited to 180 days. The new RoHS rule will limit the amount of hazardous substances present in electronic products produced in India.

Who do you think will be next to enact RoHS or WEEE legislation? Will it be Australia or Thailand, where no formal RoHS rules exist but where electronic equipment manufacturers are already re-designing their products to remove hazardous substances? Will it be in the United States or Canada, where differing (non-uniform) state and provincial electronic waste rules are making compliance difficult for manufacturers and distributors? Tell me what you think.

7 comments on “India Enacts RoHS & WEEE Legislation: Who’s Next?

  1. Anand
    October 6, 2011

    India is the latest country to enact RoHS and WEEE legislation.

    @Ken, thanks for the update. Its really good to know that India has agreed to enact RoHS and WEEE legilations. But I am just bit sceptical about the method the government has adopted. Because  government-issued “Grant of Authorization”can be easily misused in India. These grants can be easily obtained if you bribe the authorities in India. I really hope government will relook at this method and implement foolproof steps to implement these laws strictly.

  2. elctrnx_lyf
    October 6, 2011

    yes … I agree with you that the grant of authorization could easily result in misuse of the authority. Government should have a team to control the working. So I just wonder how the rules will be imposed on the individual public to recycle the ewaste.

  3. kmanchen
    October 6, 2011

    While authorizing/licensing reputable e-waste recyclers will be a challenge I don't think that is India's biggest challenge. The government has already authorized reputable recyclers like Attero Recycling in New Delhi, E-Parisaraa in Bangalore, and Thrishyiraya (SIMS) in Chennai. These companies serve multinational companies committed to proper e-waste handling who are willing to pay extra for that. The real problem India faces is a thriving backyard recycling industry (informal sector). E-waste is collected by recyclers abroad and then sold to waste traders in India. E-waste lands in India ports, passes through customs as second hand mixed metal scrap, then ends up in the informal e-waste recycling sector. The big problem lies in policing the issuing of licenses to import materials that are ear-marked for the informal recycling sector. Unless India can do that the informal recycling sector will continue to flourish.

  4. kmanchen
    October 6, 2011

    Thanks for your comments. You asked how the rules will be imposed on the individual public to recycle e-waste. The rules cover producers, consumers, collection centres, dismantlers & recyclers. Collection centers will be established for the collection of scrap consumer electronics like calculators, computers, printer cartridges, and houshold appliances. Collection centres will have to use authorized recyclers. India's goal is to eliminate backyard recycling and ensure all Indian WEEE is recycled safely.

  5. Daniel
    October 7, 2011

    “Who do you think will be next to enact RoHS or WEEE legislation?”

    In my personal opinion, all nations have to adopt such rules and guidelines. During recycling many of the toxic elements like lead, cadmium, and mercury are exposing to the atmosphere and creating more pollution. Such toxic substance can create chronic respiratory diseases, so it’s important to follow such rules and regulations by all countries.

  6. Bangalore S. Jai Prakash
    October 9, 2011


    Thanks Ken for updating on this important issue. This will be   successful only when   Government takes some follow up action.  I suggest the following:

    Establish collection centres at Panchayat level. Give wide publicity about the collection centres through schools, colleges, print and electronic media, NGOs, Rotary organizations etc. . Print the information on cover pages of school note books and text books.      

    Government should establish public sector units for e-waste recycling at Delhi, Bombay, Chennai and Bangalore and provide employment to the informal sector.   Pay them handsomely.

    Purchase the e-waste from the kabadiwalas by paying them good money.  Convince the illegal suppliers to directly send the e-waste to the Government establishments.  

    Jai Prakash, IEHMM, Bangalore


  7. kmanchen
    October 10, 2011

    Thanks Dr. Jai Prakash. Very good suggestions!

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