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What Is E-Waste Management?


The Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) has published a report titled ‘Pathways to Circular Economy in the Indian Electronics Sector.’ This report emphasizes the pressing requirement to reconsider e-waste management and identifies potential opportunities for its utilization. According to the report, this shift could create an additional market opportunity worth USD 7 billion.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Major Highlights of the ICEA Report on E-Waste Management in India
  2. Proposed Strategies for a Circular Economy in E-Waste
  3. Status of E-Waste Management in India
  4. Strategies for Reducing and Recycling E-Waste Effectively in India

Major Highlights of the ICEA Report on E-Waste Management in India:

Current E-Waste Landscape:
  • Predominantly Informal: Approximately 90% of e-waste collection and 70% of recycling in India are managed by an informal sector in a competitive environment.
  • Informal Sector Strengths: The informal sector excels in salvaging spare parts from older electronic devices and performing profitable repairs.
  • Industrial Hubs: Certain industrial hubs like Moradabad specialize in processing printed circuit boards (PCBs) to extract valuable materials like gold and silver.
Shift Towards Circular Economy:
  • China’s Example: The report points to China, aiming to incorporate 35% of secondary raw materials into new product manufacturing by 2030, as a model for embracing a circular economy approach.

Proposed Strategies for a Circular Economy in E-Waste:

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP):

  • Collaboration between government entities and private companies is crucial to share the costs of establishing a reverse supply chain.
  • This involves collecting devices from users, erasing personal data, and directing them for further processing and recycling.

Transparent Database:

  • Creating a transparent and auditable database of materials collected through the reverse supply chain enhances accountability and traceability.

Geographical Clusters:

  • Establishing geographical clusters where discarded devices are gathered and dismantled can optimize the recycling process, increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

High-Yield Recycling Facilities:

  • Encouraging the development of high-yield recycling facilities can maximize the extraction of value from electronic products, including rare earth metals in semiconductors.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Promoting Repair: Encouraging repair and extending product lifespans, possibly by supporting a user’s right to repair, to reduce the environmental impact of electronic waste.

Status of E-Waste Management in India:

  • Electronic waste (e-waste) encompasses all old, end-of-life, or discarded electrical and electronic equipment, including household appliances and office information and communications devices.
  • Toxic Components: E-waste contains hazardous chemicals and metals like lead, cadmium, mercury, and nickel.
E-Waste in India:
  • Global Ranking: India is currently ranked third globally among the largest e-waste generators, following China and the United States.
  • Surge in Volume: The volume of e-waste in India surged significantly to 1.6 million tonnes in 2021-22.
  • Concentration: 65 cities in India generate over 60% of the total e-waste, with 10 states contributing to 70% of the total e-waste generated.
E-Waste Management Framework in India:
  • Regulations of 2008: E-waste management in India was initially addressed within the framework of the Environment and Forests Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Regulations of 2008.
  • E-Waste Rules of 2010: In 2011, important regulations known as the E-waste (Management and Handling) Regulations of 2010 were issued under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, featuring Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR).
  • E-Waste Rules of 2016: In 2017, the E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 were enacted, including more than 21 products under their scope, such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and other mercury-containing devices.
  • Amendment in 2018: In 2018, the 2016 rules were amended to expand their scope, emphasizing authorization and product stewardship, focusing on the responsibility of producers and stakeholders throughout a product’s life cycle.
  • E-Waste Rules of 2022: The Government of India introduced the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, with the primary goal of digitizing the e-waste management process and enhancing visibility.
  • Hazardous Substances Restriction: The rules also restrict the use of hazardous substances (e.g., lead, mercury, cadmium) in manufacturing electrical and electronic equipment to mitigate their adverse impact on human health and the environment.

Strategies for Reducing and Recycling E-Waste Effectively in India:

Comprehensive Regulatory Framework:

  • Create a comprehensive regulatory framework for e-waste collection that includes mandatory registration and licensing of collection centers and recyclers to formalize and standardize the process.

Tax Credit System for Manufacturers:

  • Implement a tax credit system to incentivize electronics manufacturers to design products with extended lifespans and repairability features.
  • Encourage eco-friendly design practices while discouraging planned obsolescence.

E-Waste ATMs:

  • Install E-Waste ATMs in public places, allowing individuals to deposit old electronic devices in exchange for small financial incentives or vouchers for public transportation or essential goods.
  • Incorporate educational displays on these ATMs to raise awareness about e-waste recycling.

Blockchain-Based Tracking System:

  • Establish a blockchain-based system to track the entire lifecycle of electronic devices.
  • Assign each device a digital certificate to record its manufacturing, ownership, and disposal history, simplifying traceability and accountability for improper disposal.

Promote Awareness Through Art Installations:

  • Encourage artists to create sculptures or exhibits in public spaces using e-waste materials.
  • These art installations visually depict the scale of the e-waste problem and serve as a means to raise awareness about proper disposal and recycling.

-Source: Down To Earth

July 2024