Environmental Protection Laws in India

(An overview of various Waste Management Rules and Key Compliance)

Shweta Khandelwal
Shweta Khandelwal

Published on: Oct 22, 2021

Megha Jain
Megha Jain

Updated on: Dec 13, 2022

(34 Ratings)


The functions and processes necessary to manage trash from its inception through its disposal are referred to as waste management. This involves garbage collection, transportation, processing, and removal, as well as oversight and control. The waste hierarchy pertains to the “3 R’s” of waste management: reduce, reuse, and recycle, which define waste management solutions based on their waste reduction feasibility. Most waste reduction solutions still use the waste hierarchy as their foundation. The Polluter Pays Principle states that the polluting party is responsible for the environmental damage he or she causes. In India Waste Management is governed by multiple sub-ordinate Regulations and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India (MoEF) with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards of different states (SPCB). For disposal of cases, enforcement of any legal right or giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property relating to environment the National Green Tribunal(NGT) was established in 2010. There are various Rules governing compliance and issues of waste Management in India.


Environment Protection Act was enforced in 1986 for the protection and improvement of environment. The rules framed under Act mandates Industrial units and corporates to act in a responsible manner to protect environment, ensure location and functioning of industries and manner of dealing with waste generation. Various Rules are notified to govern areas like waste prevention, minimization, reuse and recycle of municipal solid waste, industrial, agricultural and hazardous waste.


  • Hazardous Waste means any waste which by reason of characteristics such as physical, chemical, biological, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive, causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment.
  • Bio-Medical Waste means any waste, which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunisation of human beings or animals or research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological or in health camps.
  • Solid Waste means and includes solid or semi-solid domestic waste, sanitary waste, commercial waste, institutional waste, catering and market waste and other non residential wastes, street sweepings, silt removed or collected from the surface drains, horticulture waste, agriculture and dairy waste, treated bio-medical waste excluding industrial waste, bio-medical waste and e-waste, battery waste, radio-active waste generated in the area under the local authorities and other entities.
  • Plastic Waste means any plastic discarded after use or after their intended use is over.
  • Extended Producer’s Responsibility means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
  • E-Waste means electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes.
  • Construction and Demolition Waste means the waste comprising of building materials, debris and rubble resulting from construction, re-modeling, repair and demolition of any civil structure.
  • Battery means lead acid battery which is a source of electrical energy and contains lead metal.


  • Every household who generates wastes like discarded cans of paint and pesticide, disposable diaper and sanitary pads(Sanitary waste), discarded medicines, broken mercury thermometers, used needles and syringes(Bio-Medical Waste)
  • Event organizers,Industrial unit, factories, plants, Corporates, multi story buildings
  • Gated Community having more than area 5000 sq. Meters
  • Resident Welfare Associations(RWAs) & Market Associations
  • Hotels & restaurants.


Hazardous Waste Management Rules were notified to ensure safe handling, generation, processing, treatment, package, storage, transportation, use reprocessing, collection, conversion, and offering for sale, destruction and disposal of Hazardous Waste.

  • Occupier is responsible for management of hazardous and other wastes including prevention, minimization, reuse, recycling, recovery and safe disposal
  • State Government is responsible for environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes
  • Process for Import and export of hazardous and other wastes
  • Process for treatment, storage and disposal facility for hazardous and other wastes
  • Process for packaging, labelling, and transport of hazardous and other wastes
  • Occupier of a factory have to obtain authorization from SPCB, and responsible for safe and sound environmental handling of hazardous wastes generated within the establishment or factory
  • Approval from Central Government on Import of Waste for recycling and treatment.


  • Waste Generators shall segregate waste, store it separately and hand over to Municipal workers or authorized waste pickers
  • Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change shall constitute ‘Central Monitoring Committee’ to monitor and review every year
  • MOUD (Ministry of Urban Development,) shall frame National Policy and coordinate with States/UTs, provide technical guidelines, financial support, training to local bodies
  • Operator of facilities shall follow guidelines/standards
  • Industry (cement, power plant, etc.) shall use Refuse Derived Fuel within 100 km
  • All waste generators shall pay user fee for solid waste management, as specified in the bye-laws of the local bodies.


Solid Waste Management rules are formulated for the purpose of segregation, storage, collection, transport or transfer, processing and disposal of solid waste materials.


E- Waste (Management) Rules were notified to address leakage of e-waste to informal sector at all the stages of channelization.These are applicable on every producer, consumer or bulk consumer, collection centre, dismantler and recycler of e-waste involved in the manufacture, sale, purchase and processing of electrical and electronic equipment or components.

There are two categories of electrical and electronic equipment namely:

  • IT and Telecommunication Equipment and
  • Consumer Electricals and Electronics like TVs, Washing Machines, Refrigerators Air Conditioners including and other mercury containing lamps.

The main feature, of these rules, is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which is the responsibility of every producer of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) for channelization of e-waste to an authorised dismantler / recycler to ensure environmentally sound management of such waste.

EPR authorisation is mandatory and all the producers including importers, e-retailers/on-line sellers/e-bay of EEE covered in E-Waste (Management) Rules, have to obtain the same.


Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 were notified to give thrust on plastic waste minimization, source segregation, recycling, involving waste pickers, recyclers and waste processors in collection of plastic waste fraction either from households or any other source of its generation or intermediate material recovery facility and adopt polluter’s pay principle for the sustainability of the waste management system and aim to define and formulate:

  • Extend the scope of application beyond municipal jurisdiction to include rural regions, as plastic has made its way into rural areas
  • To include producers’ and generators’ obligations in the plastic waste management system, as well as to implement a collect-back mechanism for plastic garbage by producers/brand owners, as part of the extended producer responsibility
  • To implement the gathering of a plastic waste management charge through pre-registration of plastic carry bags/multi-layered packaging producers, importers, and vendors supplying the same in order to build a waste management system
  • To encourage the use of plastic trash for road building in accordance with Indian Road Congress recommendations, as well as energy recovery, waste to oil, and other waste-to-energy initiatives, in order to maximize waste use and address the waste disposal problem
  • To place additional responsibility on waste generators, such as paying the local authority’s user fee, collecting and handing over waste by the institutional generator and event organizers
  • Increase the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns, as well as the minimum thickness of plastic sheets to 50 microns, to make it easier to gather and recover plastic waste
  • Manufacturer of plastic carry bags, multilayered pouches or sachets and every recycler have to seek registration with SPCB which is valid for a period of 3 years.


Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 applies to all persons who generate, collect, receive, store, transport, treat, dispose, or handle bio medical waste in any form including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, dispensaries, veterinary institutions, animal houses, pathological laboratories, blood banks, hospitals, clinical establishments, research or educational institutions, health camps, medical or surgical camps, vaccination camps, blood donation camps, first aid rooms of schools, forensic laboratories and research labs.
Occupier of an establishment generating, or dealing in BM Wastes in any other manner, and of a treatment facility is required to make an application for authorization from SPCB.


  • Segregation of waste at Source
  • Pre- treatment of Laboratory and Highly infectious waste
  • Collection and Storage of segregated waste in colour coded bags/containers/bins
  • Intra-mural transportation from generation site to central storage area
  • Storage at central facility
  • Treatment of Waste
  • Final Disposal through Central Bio- Medical Waste Treatment Facility.


  • Nosocomial infection in Patients from poor infection control practice and poor waste management.
  • Risk of Disease/ Infection due to untreated biomedical waste(plastics)
  • Risk of disease due to reuse of expired medicines
  • Risk of infection outside Hospital for waste handler and other people
  • Risk to domestic/stray animals from biomedical waste and potential propagation of any infection to humans.


Batteries rules were formulated for the efficient disposal of the batteries as it contains toxic and corrosive materials such as mercury, lead, cadmium, sulphuric acid, Lithium Percholate, etc. The rules apply to every manufacturer, importer, re-conditioner, assembler, dealer, recycler, auctioneer, consumer, and bulk consumer involved in the manufacture, processing, sale, purchase, and use of batteries or components.

  • The manufacturer, importer, assembler, and re-conditioner has to file a half-yearly return of their sales and buy-back to the SPCB in Form-I latest by 30th June and 31st December of every year
  • The Importers and Recycler have to obtain a registration.


The C&D waste management rules were incorporated to promote the utilization of C&D waste and for segregation, recovery, reuse, recycle at the source. The rules shall apply to every waste resulting from construction, re-modeling, repair and demolition of any civil structure of individual or organization or authority who generates construction and demolition waste such as building materials, debris, rubble.

The following are few major compliances under the rules:

  • The Authorization for building the site for storage and processing or recycling facilities or construction and demolition waste shall be applied in Form I to the State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee
  • The officer in charge of the facility in the local authority or the operator of the facility shall report the accident in Form-V to the local authority in case of accident during construction and demolition waste processing or treatment or disposal facility.


  • Non- Compliance attracts Penalty of imprisonment for five years or fine of one lakh rupees, or both
  • In case of continuing offence, the additional fine of five thousand rupees for every day. If the offence continues beyond a period of one year the imprisonment may extend to seven years.


The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The content of this article is not intended to create and receipt of it does not constitute any relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

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