Study reveals failure in implementation of solid waste rules

Recent study of Toxics Link found out that millions of pencil cell or dry cell batteries end up in landfills, poisoning our environment.

rahul-trivedi

Rahul Trivedi | March 14, 2019 | Delhi


#waste management   #batteries   #solid waste   #waste   #landfills   #pencil cells   #Toxic Links   #environment  


While we toss in the dead pencil cells or dry cells in the dustbin we never give a thought about end-of-life management of these batteries. The recent study of Toxic Links on batteries titled ‘DEAD AND BURIED’ estimated 2.7 billion pieces of dry cell batteries being annually consumed in India, of which zinc-carbon cells account for 97 percent of the market share. These batteries may contain a variety of heavy metals and other chemicals like cadmium, nickel, lead, mercury, copper, zinc manganese or lithium.

 
The first study on small batteries reveals that most of the ‘dead’ zinc-carbon cells reach landfills, amounting to an annual load of approximately 2.4 billion pieces, potentially leaching these heavy metals and chemicals into the surrounding soil, surface and groundwater, thus contaminating the food we eat or air we breathe, seriously compromising public health.
 
Many of these metals are recognised as highly toxic and known to damage nervous system, kidneys, cause cancer and birth defects.
 
Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link says, “There is a critical and urgent need for a comprehensive regulatory framework and setting up of infrastructure for sound management of end-of-life dry cell batteries in the country both on accounting of reducing environmental impacts and resource recovery.”
 
The study also recommends that there should be a separate regulatory framework for small batteries management along with target based extended producer responsibility as the key principle. Apart from this, it is also being recommended that setting up of robust collection mechanism for consumers, support for battery recycling infrastructure and consumer awareness will also help in controlling the hazards caused due to these ‘dead’ batteries.
 
The key findings of the study are:
  • Current management status of household battery waste in India and their recovery potential is traced in the study
  • The dry cell battery volume in India is 2.7 billion pieces every year with zinc-carbon cells accounting for 97 percent of the market in India. Most of the annual zinc-carbon cell consumption eventually goes to landfills in India amounting to an annual load of 2.4 billion pieces
  • The current Municipal Waste Rules, 2016 do include batteries as part of domestic hazardous waste, but there are no collection systems or recycling facilities to manage these batteries, generated in millions annually
  • Battery recycling in India virtually non-existent
  • Resource Conservation Potential of battery recycling is huge. Efficient recovery can extract 15025.42 tonnes of Zinc, 15258.07 tonnes of Manganese and 10848.50 tonnes of steel along with 2.4 billion graphite rods from dry used cell batteries per year in India, only by recycling discarded ZnC cells

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