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Electronic Waste in India

E-Waste in India

Definition: Electronic waste, commonly known as E-waste, refers to discarded and end-of-life electronic products, including computers, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment, home appliances, audio and video products, and their peripherals. E-waste contains various substances such as heavy metals, plastics, and glass, which can pose potential environmental and human health hazards if not managed in an environmentally sound manner.

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Hazardous Elements in E-Waste:

E-waste contains hazardous elements, including:

  • Lead, primarily found in all electronic products and assemblies, cathode ray tubes (CRTs), etc.
  • Cadmium, present in monitors and CRTs.
  • Mercury, which may be found in switches and flat-screen monitors, as well as in CFLs, relays, and specific products.
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), found in capacitors and transformers.

E-Waste in India:

In the year 2020-2021, India processed approximately 3.4 lakh tonnes of E-waste. However, only 22.7 percent of the E-waste generated in India during 2019-20, which amounted to 10,14,961.21 tonnes, was properly collected, dismantled, recycled, or disposed of.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the generation of E-waste continues to increase by more than 3 percent annually.

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E-Waste (Management) Rules:

The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, include provisions for:

  • Recycling targets for those dealing with electrical/electronic components, assemblies, or equipment (producers).
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Authorization to be obtained by producers from CPCB for implementing their EPR and providing details of their dismantlers/recyclers.
  • Mandatory registration on a portal developed by CPCB for all manufacturers, producers, refurbishers, and recyclers.
  • Prohibition of any entity from conducting business without proper registration.
  • Notification of 106 types of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) under the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022.
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Loopholes in Implementation:

Several challenges exist in the proper management of E-waste in India, including:

  • E-waste is growing in India at the rate of 10%. Major recycling of e-waste is carried out in the non-formal sector using elementary and hazardous methods.
  • The limited number of authorized dismantlers and recyclers (approximately 569 across 22 states), which hinders the proper handling of all generated E-waste.
  • E-waste is often does not includes in the municipal waste collection lists, leading to inadequate collections.
  • Lack of clarity and awareness among the public regarding E-waste, causing mismanagement.
  • The rapid growth of the electronics market has not been met with a corresponding increase in waste management facilities.

India’s Timeline for Environmental Laws

  • 1972: Wildlife (Protection) Act.
  • 1973: Chipko movement.
  • 1974: Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.
  • 1980: Forest (Conservation) Act.
  • 1981: Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.
  • 1983: Appiko movement.
  • 1985: Conversion of the National Council for Environmental Policy and Planning into the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • 1986: Environment (Protection) Act.
  • 1988: National Forest Policy.
  • 1989: Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules.
  • 1991: Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification.
  • 1995: National Environmental Tribunal Act.
  • 1998: Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules.
  • 2000: Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, Ozone-Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules.
  • 2001: Energy Conservation Act, Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules.
  • 2002: Biological Diversity Act.
  • 2006: Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act.
  • 2010: National Green Tribunal Act, E-waste (Management) Rules.
  • 2016: Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, Plastic Waste (Management) Rules, The Solid Waste (Management) Rules.
  • 2017: Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules.
  • 2022: Forest (Conservation) Rules.

Down to Earth Summary (May 16-31, 2010)

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