New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has proposed new rules for battery waste management that will make it mandatory for manufacturers and dealers to collect used batteries against the new ones they sell, according to an official notification.
The proposed draft rules called the ‘Battery Waste Management Rules 2020’ include batteries of all kinds, unlike the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001, which only mentioned lead-acid batteries.
According to the draft rules, it puts the responsibility of collection of batteries and their safe transport to the recyclers on the manufacturers and dealers.
They will need to ensure that used batteries are sent only to the registered recyclers and that environment is not harmed during their transportation, stated the notification issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The notification was uploaded on the ministry’s website Tuesday.
“Important stakeholders were excluded in Battery (Management and Handling) Rules 2001. There was a responsibility of battery manufacturers to collect old batteries, but they were not required to register their businesses. So small battery manufacturers did not come under the ambit of the BMHR,” said Navin Sharma, Director of Material Recycling Association of India (MRAI).
“Under the new rules, battery dealers will have to issue purchase invoices (when they collect used batteries). Earlier, dealers were obliged to register with the state pollution control boards, but there was no mention of issuing purchase invoice for old batteries,” Sharma told ThePrint.
Sharma said earlier the dealers would take old batteries from customers, but those would not be mentioned in the records. “The new rules will require dealers to raise an invoice for every used battery received from the consumers,” he said.
Sharma, however, also said that in India, the “major challenge is to implement these regulations”.
The ministry has asked people to give their suggestions or raise objections to the draft rules within 60 days.
Why the new rules matter
The new draft rules come at a time when representatives of the recycling industry are demanding a separate ministry to drive its growth and help convert the country’s waste into wealth.
An estimated 2.7 billion pieces of dry cell batteries are consumed annually in India, but the country currently does not have a collection mechanism to ensure that these batteries are safely transported to recyclers.
Unsafe disposal of batteries can cause harmful metals like mercury and cadmium to leak out and enter the soil and water.
Discarded batteries, meanwhile, can be a valuable resource to recover highly useful metals in an environmentally-friendly manner.