With a view to strengthen the ecosystem for handling and disposal of batteries across India and ensure the safety of people involved, as well as to check the environmental hazards caused by their indiscriminate handling and disposal, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has published the draft Battery Waste Management Rules, 2020, on February 20, 2020 which is set to supersede Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001. Types of batteries that are proposed to be brought under the purview include all primary (non-rechargeable) and secondary (chargeable) cells.
The amendment looks to ensure safe and formalised recycling of batteries that are under use, with an emphasis on tracking batteries that have completed their useful life through online records and data management. The amendment also lays out the responsibilities of the manufacturer, importer, assembler, re-conditioner, consumer, exporter, dismantler, collection centre and state/central pollution control board explicitly and also stresses awareness on the hazards of Lead, Cadmium and Mercury and safety measures associated with their handling.
The proposed rules will seek accountability to make sure that the batteries are recycled through formal channels in a safe manner and when enforced, will cover a vast range and be applicable to “every manufacturer, producer, collection centre, importer, re-conditioner, refurbisher, dismantler, assembler, dealer, recycler, auctioneer, vehicle service centre, consumer and bulk consumers involved in manufacture, processing, sale, purchase, collection, storage, reprocessing and use of batteries or components thereof including components, consumables and spare parts which make the product operational.” The targets for extended producer responsibility have also been stated along with the framework for collection and channelization of waste batteries at end of life.
The Ministry has asked manufacturers to set up collection centres by themselves or jointly at various places for collecting used batteries from consumers and dealers. They will also have to ensure arrangements for safe transportation of old batteries from the collection centre to the authorised/registered recyclers. Furthermore, manufacturers will also need to file an annual record of their sales and buyback to the State Board by December 31 of every year.
When the proposed amendments come into force, India may take a global lead in establishing a regulatory framework on putting in place a mechanism for safe disposal and recycling of batteries.