The Centre has issued a showcause notice to 21 online shopping portals, including biggies like Amazon India, Olx, Quickr and Snapdeal, for importing and reselling used mobile phones and other electrical and electronic equipment. The Union Environment Ministry, which slapped the notice on September 22, has asked these e-commerce companies to respond within 15 days, failing which strict action will be taken under Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act.

According to the ministry, resale of such used products increases electronic waste in the country. The Act entails a maximum punishment of five years in jail and/or Rs 1 lakh fine. According to laws, reused products cannot not be imported without prior approval of the ministry as it violates both Hazardous and Other Waste (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules and E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules.

An Amazon spokesperson said, “We have noted the concerns flagged by the Ministry of Environment and are conducting a detailed evaluation, working closely with our sellers, partners and the government to ensure our commitment to compliance continues.”

Last year, Amazon India started selling refurbished smartphones from Samsung and Xiomi. Now, the online shopping giant has a dedicated section to sell reused phones from Asus, HTC, Lenovo, LeEco, Micromax, Motorola, OnePlus and Xolo.