The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has published its Guidelines on Management of Pyro-metallurgical Slags (Copper Smelters). These Guidelines were published in August, 2023.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India had notified the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016. These rules define hazardous waste as any waste that possesses characteristics such as physical, chemical, biological, reactivity, toxicity, flammability, explosiveness, or corrosiveness, which could pose a danger to health or the environment.
These Rules encompass various categories of hazardous waste, including waste specified in Schedule I, waste exceeding concentration limits specified in Schedules II (Class A and Class B), and waste exhibiting hazardous characteristics mentioned in Schedule II (Class C). Additionally, it includes wastes specified in Part A of Schedule III and wastes not specified in Part A but demonstrating hazardous characteristics detailed in Part C of Schedule III.
Notably, pyro-metallurgical slags are classified as “High Volume Low Effect Waste” (HVLE waste) under the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016. This classification aligns with the rules established in the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008. Specifically, the rules exempt high-volume low-effect wastes, such as fly ash, Phosphogypsum, Red Mud, Jarosite, and pyro-metallurgical slags from the hazardous waste category. The management of these waste types will be governed by separate guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board.
In response to the need for sustainable waste management practices, NITI Aayog formed a Committee on Circular Economy. This committee recommended promoting circular economy initiatives in the metal sector, including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, through an action plan. This action plan encompasses the issuance of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the utilization of resource materials derived from pyro-metallurgical slags generated by Iron and Copper smelters. Importantly, these recommendations are in line with the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016.