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Battery Recycling in Europe, not a model for India yet

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, September 22, 2008 | 1:37 AM

Note:While in India, Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001 remains a paper work, even European community legislation on batteries that applies to all batteries (except batteries used in equipment connected with the protection of Member States' essential security interest and batteries in equipment designed to be sent to space)leaves a lot to be desired.

The EU Directive on Batteries aims at minimising the negative impacts of batteries and accumulators on the environment and also harmonising requirements for the smooth functioning of the internal market. To achieve these objectives, the Directive introduces measures to prohibit the marketing of some batteries containing hazardous substances. It contains measures for establishing schemes aiming at high level of collection and recycling of batteries with quantified collection and recycling targets. The Directive sets out minimum rules for producer responsibility and provisions with regard to labelling of batteries and their removability from equipment.

In India, all actions so far have remained limited to shifting the recycling units from one place to another as a knee jerk reactions as if it is a remedy to deal with the occupational and environmental health hazards.

EU warns nations who fail on battery recycling

European Union headquarters threatened legal action against member nations who fail to impose rules for collecting and recycling batteries which are due to come into force on September 26, 2008.

The rules impose targets for collecting defunct batteries to limit pollution caused when they are incinerated or buried in leaky landfill sites, but only seven of the 27 EU countries have written them into national legislation.

So far only Estonia, Spain, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria and Slovenia, have implemented the new rules, said EU spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich. Ireland, Lithuania, Poland and Finland say they are close to doing so.

The new rules impose targets for collecting defunct batteries ranging from regular AA batteries to those used in mobile phones and laptops. By 2012, a quarter of all batteries sold must be collected once they run out and recycled. By 2016, the target will rise to 45 percent.

Distributors will be required to take used batteries and accumulators back at no charge. The rules also determine how batteries must be recycled once collected. Use of mercury and cadmium in batteries is restricted under the rules and dumping car and industrial batteries in landfill sites is banned.

The EU's high court can impose hefty daily fines on nations that fail to implement European laws.

New EU-wide rules to boost the collection and recycling of used domestic batteries has come into force to reduce the environmental and health hazards posed by mercury, lead, cadmium and other metals.

The targets, already agreed by member states, are the collection of 25 percent of discarded household batteries by 2012 rising to 45 percent in 2016.

By 26 September 2009 all batteries collected should be recycled, with leeway in certain circumstances.

So far only seven of the 27 EU member states -- Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, The Netherlands, Slovenia and Spain -- had brought their national legislation in line with the new EU directive.

Finland. Ireland, Poland and Lithuania have said the legislation is prepared but not yet in force.

The European Commission sees the "batteries directive" as an important step on its wider goal of a greener society.

Officials are concerned about the environmental and health hazards posed by batteries being dumped in landfill sites.

The responsibility for making sure the new rules work lies with the producers, according to the rules.

Mercury, lead and cadmium are by far the most problematic substances in the battery waste stream. Batteries containing these substances are classified in Europe as "hazardous waste."

The new rules also cover industrial and vehicle batteries, ensuring that users have the possibility of returning used batteries for collection.

However even under current practice, the collection of industrial and automotive batteries is already close to 100 percent due to their recycling value.

The new rules also include restrictions on the use of mercury in all batteries and on the use of cadmium in portable batteries.

In 2002, 75,515 portable batteries were used in the then 15-member EU, almost half of which ended up in landfill sites or incinerators.

Full relevant EU documents are available on http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/batteries/index.htm

As per the Indian Rules, It shall be the responsibility of a manufacturer, importer, assembler and re-conditioner to

(i) ensure that the used batteries are collected back as per the Schedule (mentioned in the Rules) against new batteries sold excluding those sold to original equipment manufacturer and bulk consumer(s);

(ii) ensure that used batteries collected back are of similar type and specifications as that of the new batteries sold;

(iii) file a half-yearly return of their sales and buy-back to the State Board in Form-I latest by 30th June and 31st December of every year;

(iv) set up collection centers either individually or jointly at various places for collection of used batteries from consumers or dealers;

(v) ensure that used batteries collected are sent only to the registered recyclers;

(vi) ensure that necessary arrangements are made with dealers for safe transportation from collection centers to the premises of registered recyclers;

(vii) ensure that no damage to the environment occurs during transportation;

(viii) create public awareness though advertisements, publications, posters or by other means with regard to the following-

(a) hazards of lead;

(b) responsibility of consumers to return their used batteries only to the dealers or deliver at designated collection centers; and

(c) addresses of dealers and designated collection centers.

(ix) use the international recycling sign on the Batteries;

(x) buy recycled lead only from registered recyclers; and

(xi) bring to the notice of the State Board or the Ministry of Environment & Forests any violation by the dealers.

5. REGISTRATION OF IMPORTERS. –

The importer shall get himself registered with the Ministry of Environment & Forests or an agency designated by it by submitting details in Form-II.

6. CUSTOMS CLEARANCE OF IMPORTS OF NEW LEAD ACID BATTERIES.-

Customs clearance of imports shall be contingent upon -

(i) valid registration with the Reserve Bank of India(with Importer’s Code Number);

(ii) one time registration with the Ministry of Environment & Forests or an agency designated by it in Form-II;

(iii) undertaking in Form-III; and

(iv) a copy of the latest half-yearly return in Form-IV

7. RESPONSIBILITIES OF DEALER.–

It shall be the responsibility of a dealer to -

(i) ensure that the used batteries are collected back as per the Schedule against new batteries sold;

(ii) give appropriate discount for every used battery returned by the consumer;

(iii) ensure that used batteries collected back are of similar type and specifications as that of the new batteries sold;

(iv) file half-yearly returns of the sale of new batteries and buy-back of old batteries to the manufacturer in Form-V by 31st May and 30th November of every year;
(v) ensure safe transportation of collected batteries to the designated collection centers or to the registered recyclers; and

(vi) ensure that no damage is caused to the environment during storage and transportation of used batteries.

8. RESPONSIBILITIES OF RECYCLER. –

Each recycler shall

(i) apply for registration to the Ministry of Environment & Forests or an agency designated by it if not applied already, by submitting information in Form VI;

(ii) ensure strict compliance of the terms and conditions of registration, however, those already registered with the Ministry of Environment & Forests or an agency designated by it for reprocessing used batteries would be bound by the terms and conditions of such registration;

(iii) submit annual returns as per Form VII to the State Board.

(iv) Make available all records to the State Board for inspection;

(v) Mark ‘Recycled’ on lead recovered by reprocessing; and

(vi) Create public awareness through advertisements, publications, posters or others with regard to the following –

(a) hazards of lead; and
(b) obligation of consumers to return used batteries only to the registered dealers or deliver at the designated collection centers.

9. PROCEDURE FOR REGISTRATION/RENEWAL OF REGISTRATION OF RECYCLERS. –

(1) Every recycler of used lead acid batteries shall make an application in Form VI along with the following documents to the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests or any officer designated by the Ministry or an agency designated by it for grant of registration or renewal.

(a) a copy of the valid consents under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, as amended and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, as amended;

(b) a copy of the valid authorisation under Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 as amended;

(c) a copy of valid certificate of registration with District Industries Centre; and
(d) a copy of the proof of installed capacity issued by either State Pollution Control Board/ District Industries Centre.

(2) The Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests or any officer designated by the Ministry or an agency designated by it shall ensure that the recyclers possess appropriate facilities, technical capabilities, and equipment to recycle used batteries and dispose of hazardous waste generated;

(3) The Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests or any officer designated by the Ministry or an agency designated by it shall take decision on application for registration within 120 days of receipt of application form with complete details;

(4) The registration granted under this rule shall be in force for a period of two years from the date of issue or from the date of renewal unless suspended or cancelled earlier;

(5) An application for the renewal of registration shall be made in Form VI atleast six months before its expiry. The Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests or any officer designated by the Ministry or an agency designated by it shall renew the registration of the recycler granted under sub rule(4) of this rule, after examining each case on merit;

(6) The Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests or any officer designated by the Ministry or an agency designated by it may, after giving reasonable opportunity to the applicant of being heard, refuse to grant registration;

(7) The Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests or any officer designated by the Ministry or an agency designated by it may cancel or suspend a registration issued under these rules, if in his/her opinion, the registered recycler has failed to comply with any of the conditions of registration, or with any provisions of the Act or rules made thereunder after giving him an opportunity to explain and after recording the reasons therefor;

(8) It shall be the responsibility of the State Boards to monitor the compliance of conditions prescribed while according registration; and

(9) An appeal shall lie against any order of suspension or cancellation or refusal of registration passed by the Joint Secretary to the Ministry of Environment & Forests or any officer designated by the Ministry or an agency designated by it. The appeal shall be in writing and shall be accompanied with a copy of the order appealed against and shall be presented within 30 days of passing of the order.

10. RESPONSIBILITIES OF CONSUMER OR BULK CONSUMER. –

(1) It shall be the responsibility of the consumer to ensure that used batteries are not disposed of in any manner other than depositing with the dealer, manufacturer, importer, assembler, registered recycler, re-conditioner or at the designated collection centers.

(2) It shall be the responsibility of the bulk consumer to -

(i) ensure that used batteries are not disposed of in any manner other than by depositing with the dealer/manufacturer/registered/recycler/importer/re-conditioner or at the designated collection centers; and

(ii) file half-yearly return in Form VIII to the State Board.-

(3) Bulk consumers or their user units may auction used batteries to registered recyclers only.

11. RESPONSIBILITIES OF AUCTIONEER. –

The auctioneer shall -

(i) ensure that used batteries are auctioned to the registered recyclers only;

(ii) file half-yearly returns of their auctions to the State Boards in Form-IX,; and

(iii) maintain a record of such auctions and make these records available to the
State Board for inspection.

12. PRESCRIBED AUTHORITY. –

The prescribed authority for ensuring compliance o the provisions of these rules shall be the State Board. And, it shall file an annual compliance status report to the Central Pollution Control Board by 30th April of every year.

13. DUTIES OF CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD. –

The Central Pollution Control Board shall compile and publish the date received every year from the State Boards. It shall review the compliance of the rules periodically to improve the collection and recycling of used lead batteries and apprise the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India.

14. COMPUTERISATION OF RECORDS AND RETURNS. –

Ministry of Environment and Forests or an agency designated by it shall develop a system for computerised tracking of -

(i) distribution and sale of batteries;
(ii) collection, auction, transport and re-processing of used batteries;
(iii) sale of re-processed lead by registered recyclers; and
(iv) sale of lead from all domestic producers or importers.
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