EDITORIAL

MoEF&CC proposes Amendments to Battery Waste Management Rules

26th February 2020


Year 2020 has been described as a Super Year for Environment. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has brought several proposals to amend existing rules. The latest one being the Battery Waste Management Rules 2020, vide S.O. 770(E) dated 20th February 2020. Earlier, the Batteries Management and Handling Rules were notified in 2001 and amended in 2010. 

The earlier rules were considering only lead acid battery. The 2020 rules incorporate all types of batteries; such as non-rechargeable and rechargeable batteries, regardless of their shape, volume, weight, material composition or use. Under the new rules 'battery' or “accumulator” means any source of electrical energy generated by direct conversion of chemical energy and includes disposable primary (Alkaline/Mercury/Silver oxide/Zinc Carbon) batteries or rechargeable secondary (Lead Acid/Lithium Ion/Lithium Metal/Nickel Cadmium) batteries or any other battery which is a source of electrical energy and contains (or may produce at end of its life) potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide or ammonium chloride or zinc chloride or sulfuric acid or pressurized sulfur dioxide gas or thionyl chloride or magnesium bromide or magnesium perchlorate or mercury or zinc or cadmium or nickel or lithium chloride or any other hazardous material as defined in Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016. Schedule-I of the new rule has listed all batteries including alkaline batteries, and lead acid batteries. It will become applicable to every manufacturer, producer, collection center, importer, re-conditioner, re-furbisher, dismantler, assembler, dealer, recycler, auctioneer, vehicle service center, consumer and bulk consumer involved in manufacture, processing, sale, purchase, collection, storage, re-processing and use of batteries or components thereof including their components, consumables and spare parts, which make the product operational; all appliances into which a battery is or may be incorporated. 

The new regulations do not apply to batteries used in (1) equipment connected with the protection of the essential security interests such as arms, ammunition and war material, and intended specifically for military purposes; (2) equipment designed to be sent into space (space exploration); (3) emergency and alarm systems; (4) emergency lighting; and (5) Medical Equipment.

The definition 'bulk consumer' has also changed, and it means a consumer such as Central Government, Railways, Defense, Telecom, Posts and Telegraph, departments of State Government, public sector undertakings, Boards, banks, educational institutions, multinational organizations, international agencies and public or private companies that are registered under the Factories Act, 1948 and Companies Act, 2013 and health care facilities, which have turnover of more than 1 crore or have more than 20 employees and other agencies or companies who purchase hundred or more than 100 batteries per annum.

What are the responsibilities of a consumer and bulk consumer? Consumers shall be required to ensure that used batteries are not disposed of in any manner other than depositing with the seller or in demarcated areas form whom the consumer has bought the new battery. The consumer shall obtain proper GST invoice in respect of new battery purchased from the dealer. Additionally, the consumer shall receive an invoice, along with payment voucher from the dealer in respect of every used battery sold, as per CGST Act, 2017.

The new rule has proposed bulk consumer to get registered with State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), which was not required earlier. The bulk consumer shall ensure that that scrap batteries are not disposed off in any manner other than depositing it to registered recyclers. Previously, the scrap batteries were considered under hazardous waste regulation. The bulk consumer shall file annual return in Form 1, which is yet to be finalized, to the SPCB. Further, bulk consumer shall provide data of new batteries purchased and old batteries sold with their tariff heading and GSTN. The rules have provisions for the bulk consumers or their user units that may go to contract or auction for used batteries to registered recyclers only. Bulk consumers are also required to keep a record of valid license of registered recyclers with whom scrap batteries are being deposited. 

Transforming to BS-VI Grade Fuel

12th February 2020

  

In the contemporary world we need more cars, but less emission into the air. This contrast between focusing on energy and less pollution has entirely massively shifted the development paradigm of India. India is committed to United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it is also a part of United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Bharat Stage Emission Standards (BSES) are the standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the emissions of air pollutants from motor vehicles. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). In order to lessen the damage being caused to the environment from automobile use, in January 2016, the Government of India, announced to leapfrog to Bharat Stage (BS) VI standard of auto fuel from existing BS IV, skipping BS-V emissions norms. The norms will be applicable on Pan-India basis with effect from 1st April 2020. This was a historic decision towards India’s commitment for curbing air pollution. A deadline was also set for rolling out cleaner (BS-VI compliant) fuel across the National Capital Territory (NCT) by April 2018 and National Capital Region (NCR) by April 2019.

What differentiates the existing and forthcoming standard of fuel is the presence of sulphur; basically BS-VI grade fuel possesses less sulphur content. The existing grade, of auto fuel, which is BS IV, contains 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur; while the forthcoming BS VI grade contains only 10 ppm sulphur. Moreover, with the upgradation, harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emitting from diesel cars can be brought down by 70%, and in the petrol driven cars, it can be brought down by 25%. Moreover, BS VI will also bring down the particulate matter like PM (2.5) and PM (10) by phenomenally 80%. 

Recently, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL) Mathura Refinery has informed about its successful production of 100% cleaner fuel, three months before deadline that is 1st April 2020. However, the validity of the statement “100% cleaner fuel” needs to be established with facts and figures. IOCL Mathura Refinery was the first refinery to take up the challenge to meet the requirement of supplying NCT region with BS-VI compliant fuels with its existing facilities and units. Other oil companies are also working towards this. In a press release IOCL has stated that in order to upgrade the total production of MS (petrol) & HSD (diesel) produced at Mathura Refinery to meet the most stringent BS-VI norms, some revamp projects were taken up under the Quality Improvement Project (QIP). These included modifications in existing process units including Diesel hydro Desulphurisation unit (DHDS) and Gasoline hydro Desulphurisation unit (Prime-G). Now, IOCL Mathura refinery has successfully completed the project jobs and has successfully commissioned the revamped facilities in January 2020.

The addition of a new sulphur unit for this transition will open more sulphur production as a value-added product. As per Stratas Advisors’ Global Refining & Products, Refinery Sulphur Recovery Outlook in 2019, India’s refinery sulphur recovery market is 12,980 TPD (tons per day). Furthermore, there lies a vast opportunity to export gasoline and diesel in the global market, where Euro 6 fuel is accepted. In 2018 -19, India exported 34% of gasoline of its production (109 million barrels export), and 25% of diesel (high speed diesel, 208 million barrels export).

To Concinnate Air Quality Monitoring Issues

5th February 2020

  

Air pollution is one of the biggest global environmental challenges of today. In the recently presented budget, the Finance Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman articulated her apprehension about the dearth of availability of clean Air in cities having more than above 10 lakh population. She earmarked Rs. 4400 crores to encourage States to formulate and implement plans to ensure cleaner air. Though India has launched a national level strategy for pan India implementation to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner in the form of National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which includes, increasing number of monitoring stations; there are several other air quality monitoring programmes being carried out in parallel. The objective of such programmes is either to attain regulatory compliance or to meet the requirements of customers or certification bodies. These are based on manual monitoring, which is comparatively cost-effective. There are several environmental laboratories duly accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). 

All types of monitoring methodologies have advantages and disadvantages. Apart from various disadvantages involved in the manual measurement, there are certain basic issues, often neglected. For example, a standard siting requirement is that the height of the inlet of the monitoring equipment must be within 3 to 10 m above the ground level, which is mostly unfollowed because of space constraint or lack of awareness or even due to inadequate attention. Another standard requirement is to place the monitoring equipment at a suitable distance from any direct pollution source including traffic and generators or other utilities. On the contrary, most of the project is located on the roadsides and do not offer adequate space for monitoring. Thirdly, a standard requirement states that the distance of the monitoring equipment to any airflow obstacle such as buildings or trees must be more than 2 times the height of the obstacle. This requirement also remains unfulfilled in most of the urban projects. Therefore, most of the data generated is not convincing. 

Lately, air quality data obtained through satellite observations are being taken into reference. This method has drawbacks due to a large difference between the estimated emissions values and actual values from the satellites was found. 

Further, despite a condition laid by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the project and the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or Pollution Control Committees (PCC) don’t discuss to bring a workable solution. Even in legal documents such as consent to operate issued by the SPCBs/PCCs, there are cases, where the air quality measurement is practically not feasible. Hence, it has become mere paperwork. In such cases, the industries and business establishments should come out and discuss with the SPCB/ PCC as well as regional offices of the MoEF&CC to select suitable locations to install online air quality measurement equipment. Maximum parameters of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) 2009 should be covered. The parameters should be site-specific, irrespective of applicability in NAAQS. This can represent the air quality of a particular area. To begin with, if there is a paucity of calibrated equipment sensors, the manual monitoring could be framed in this pattern and the results are displayed to the public. This will bring transparency in data. The cost and hassles of industries and business establishments shall go down, while the quality of data may become more reliable as compared to individual monitoring. This can attain continual improvement with technological developments and increasing public attention.