Home   »   E-Waste Management in India

E-Waste Management in India

Context: The Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) recently released a report titled ‘Pathways to Circular Economy in Indian Electronics Sector.’

More on the News

  • The report, developed in collaboration with NITI Aayog, explores the possibilities of harnessing electronic waste (e-waste) to create a circular economy in India’s electronics sector.
  • About the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA):
    • ICEA is the apex industry body of mobile and electronics industry comprising manufacturers, brand owners, technology providers, VAS application & solution providers, distributors and retail chains of mobile handsets and electronics devices.
    • Vision: To establish India as a Global Electronics Manufacturing HUB with major focus on exports.

Key Highlights of the Report

  • Informalization: According to the report, e-waste management in India is predominantly informal, with approximately 90% of e-waste collection and 70% of recycling being managed by a competitive informal sector.
    • The informal sector excels at salvaging older electronic devices for spare parts and profitably carrying out repairs.
  • Circular Economy: The report emphasizes the need to shift the outlook on e-waste management towards establishing a circular economy.
    • The circular economy is an economic model that aims to minimize waste, maximize resource efficiency, and promote sustainability.
    • The report stated that circular business models can help India’s electronics sector tap into additional revenue of $7 billion by 2035
  • Proposed Strategies for a Circular Economy in E-waste:
    • Public-Private Partnerships (PPP): Collaboration between government bodies and private enterprises is essential to distribute the costs of setting up a reverse supply chain.
    • Auditable Database: The creation of a transparent and auditable database of materials collected through the reverse supply chain process can enhance accountability and traceability.
    • Geographical Clusters: Establishing geographical clusters where discarded devices are gathered and dismantled can optimize the recycling process, making it more efficient and cost-effective.
    • Incentivizing ‘High-Yield’ Recycling Centers: Encouraging the development of high-yield recycling facilities can help maximize the value extraction from electronic products, including rare earth metals in semiconductors.
    • Promoting Repair and Product Longevity: Policy recommendations include encouraging repair and making products last longer.

What is E-waste?

  • E-waste is a term used to cover items of all types of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and its parts that have been discarded by the owner as waste without the intention of re-use.
  • E-waste can be generated from various sources, including households, businesses, and industries, and it poses significant environmental and health challenges when not properly managed.
  • Concerns with E-waste:
    • Environmental Pollution: E-waste often contains hazardous materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants. Improper disposal can result in the leaching of these substances, leading to soil and water pollution.
    • Health Risks: Exposure to e-waste can cause headaches, irritability, nausea, vomiting, and eye pain. Recyclers may suffer from liver, kidney, and neurological disorders.

Status of E-waste

Status of E-waste in India Global Status of E-waste
  • India has emerged as 3rd largest Electronic waste producer in the world after China and United States.
    • India produces about 4 mMT (million Metric Tonnes) of e-waste. This is expected to increase 40-fold by 2050.
  • Computer devices accounts for nearly 70% of annual e-waste production, followed by telecom sector, medical equipment and electric equipment.
  • Only 1.5% of electronic waste generated in India is recycled through institutional processes.
  • According to the UN, in 2021 each person on the planet produces on average 7.6 kg of e-waste.
  • Only 17.4% of this electronic waste, containing a mixture of harmful substances and precious materials, is recorded as being properly collected, treated, and recycled.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also estimated in a 2015 report that 60-90 percent of the world’s electronic waste is illegally traded or dumped each year.

Several Concerns with E-waste Management in India

  • Lack of infrastructure: There is a huge gap between present recycling and collection facilities and the quantum of e-waste that is being generated.
  • Lack of private participation: E-waste recycling is a relatively new business, the potential lack of information on cost effective recycling technologies acts as a market barrier.
  • Lack of Awareness and Financial Incentives: Consumers lack market information about prices for e-waste and various e-waste components, and they have few financial incentives for responsibly disposing of their e-waste.
  • Involvement of child labour: In India, about 4.5 lakh child labours are observed to be engaged in various e-waste activities and that too without adequate protection.

E-waste (management) Rules 2022

Notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), in the exercise of the powers conferred by the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Key provisions of the rules include:

  • Definition: ‘E-waste’ means electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discarded as waste, as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes.
  • Application: These rules shall apply to every manufacturer, producer, refurbisher, dismantler, and recycler involved processing of e-waste with certain exceptions (refer infographic).
  • Responsibilities:
    • Manufacturers:
      • Make the end product recyclable.
      • Component made by different manufacturers should be compatible with each other.
    • Producers:
      • Obtaining and implementing extended producer responsibility targets (at least 60% of their electronic waste is collected and recycled by 2023 with increasing them to 70 and 80 percent in 2024 and 2025, respectively).
      • Creating awareness.
    • Recycler:
      • Ensuring that the recycling processes and facilities are in accordance with the regulatory standards.
      • Maintain a record of e-waste collected.
    • State government:
      • They have to earmark space for e-waste dismantling and recycling in the existing and upcoming industrial parks, estates, and industrial clusters.
      • Undertaking industrial skill development and establishing measures for protecting the health and safety of workers engaged in the dismantling and recycling facilities for e-waste.
  • Registration: The manufacturer, producer, refurbisher, or recycler of the e-products need to compulsorily register with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • Extended Producer Responsibility Certificates: Rules aim to incentivize registered electronic waste recyclers by introducing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates (which were not part of 2016 Rules).
    • EPR means responsibility of any producer of electrical or electronic equipment for meeting recycling targets to ensure environmentally sound management of e-waste.
  • Monitoring: CPCB shall conduct random sampling of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market to monitor and verify the compliance of reduction of hazardous substances provisions.
  • Environmental Compensation: CPCB shall also lay down guidelines for the imposition and collection of environmental compensation on the producer in case of non-fulfilment of obligations.

E-waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2023

  • This amendment adds two substances to the exemptions listed in Schedule II of E-waste (management) Rules 2022 as follows:
    • Cadmium and lead in Solar panels/cells, solar Photovoltaic panels/cells/ modules.
    • Lead in Medical Devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products).
  • Every producer shall provide the detailed information on the constituents of the equipment and their components or consumables or parts or spares.
    • This information would be provided along with a declaration of conformance to the reduction of hazardous substances provisions as and when required by the Central Pollution Control Board.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *