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Electronic Waste Management in India


E waste meaning?

  • Electronic waste or e-waste is generated when electronic and electrical equipment become unfit for their originally intended use or have crossed the expiry date.
  • Examples: Computers, servers, mainframes, monitors, compact discs (CDs), printers, scanners, calculators, fax machines, battery cells, cellular phones, TVs, iPods, medical apparatus, washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners are examples of e-waste (when unfit for use).
  • E-waste typically consists of metals, plastics, cathode ray tubes (CRTs), printed circuit boards, cables, and so on.
  • The presence of toxic substances such as liquid crystal, lithium, mercury, nickel, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), cadmium, chrome, cobalt, copper, and lead, makes it very hazardous.


Why e waste is increasing?

  • The electronic equipments get fast replaced with newer models due to the rapid technology advancements and production of newer electronic equipment.
  • This has led to an exponential increase in e-waste generation.
  • People tend to switch over to the newer models and the life of products has also decreased.
  • 40 million tonnes of e-waste are either burned for resource recovery or illegally traded and treated in a sub-standard way.


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Impact of e waste

  • E-waste poses a huge risk to humans, animals, and the environment.
  • The presence of heavy metals and highly toxic substances such as mercury, lead, beryllium, and cadmium pose a significant threat to the environment even in minute quantities.


E waste recycling: E-waste problem in the world

  • Basel Convention aim at reducing and regulating the movement of hazardous waste between nations.
  • Even with the Convention, it is estimated that 50 million tonnes of e-waste were generated globally in 2018.
  • Despite 66 per cent of the world’s population being covered by e-waste legislation, only 20 per cent of global e-waste is recycled each year.
  • In the past, China has been regarded as the largest e-waste dumping site in the world.
  • The data given above only include e-waste generated nationally and do not include waste imports (both legal and illegal) which are substantial in emerging economies such as India and China.

भारत में इलेक्ट्रॉनिक अपशिष्ट प्रबंधन

E waste problem in India

  • According to a report released at the World Economic Forum 2018, India ranks 177 amongst 180 countries and is amongst the bottom five countries on the Environmental Performance Index 2018.
  • Also, India is ranked fifth in the world amongst top e-waste producing countries after the USA, China, Japan, and Germany.
  • India recycles less than 2 per cent of the total e-waste it produces annually formally.
  • India generates more than two million tonnes of e-waste annually, and also imports huge amounts of e-waste from other countries around the world.
  • Dumping in open dumpsites is a common sight which gives rise to issues such as groundwater contamination, poor health, and more.
  • E-waste collection, transportation, processing, and recycling is dominated by the informal sector.


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E waste management in India

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change rolled out the E-Waste (Management) Rules in 2016 to reduce e-waste production and increase recycling.
    • Under these rules, the government introduced EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility), which makes producers liable to collect 30 per cent to 70 per cent (over seven years) of the e-waste they produce.
  • Organizations such as GIZ have developed alternative business models in guiding the informal sector association towards authorization.
    • The integration of the informal sector into a transparent recycling system is crucial for a better control on environmental and human health impacts.
  • There is significant economic potential in the efficient recovery of valuable materials in e-waste as e-waste is a rich source of metals such as gold, silver, and copper, which can be recovered and brought back into the production cycle.
  • The E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 were amended by the government in March 2018 to facilitate and effectively implement the environmentally sound management of e-waste in India.


Electronic Waste Management in India: Recommendations

  • Government should refer methods adopted by other countries like South Korea for efficient collection and recycling of e-wastes.
  • The government should encourage the new entrepreneurs by providing the necessary financial support and technological guidance.
  • Establishment of start-ups connected with e-waste recycling and disposal should be encouraged by giving special concessions.
  • Both the organised sector and unorganised sector need to coordinate and work in a harmonious manner: the materials would be collected by the unorganized sector which would be handed over to the organized sector to process them in an environment-friendly way.
  • Government must take a proactive initiative to recycle and dispose of e-waste safely to protect the environment and ensure the well-being of the general public and other living organisms.
  • The citizens have a very important role to play in e-waste management. Some of the Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) have separate bins clearly marked for collecting e-wastes, which need to be followed in other societies as well. Students and Women SHGs can be mobilized for this activity in their respective RWAs.


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