E-Waste
Climate Science and Technology

E-Waste Management Crisis and India

e-Waste has been defined as “waste electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part or rejects from their manufacturing and repair process, which are intended to be discarded.” The crisis of e-Waste lies in the fact that globally, only up to 20% of this waste is recycled. The rest is undocumented and experts predict that it gets buried under the ground in landfills for centuries as it is not biodegradable. Let’s analyse the problems and challenges associated with the e-Waste and its mitigation.

e-Waste and Problems:

  • Wide distribution of e-Waste recycling and e-processing sites across the country.
  • Exposure of toxic materials to environment in the waste dumpsite.
  • Runoff and infiltration materials of toxic materials in water bodies.
  • Plastic part of recycled materials remains dumped and exposed in the environment.
  • Recycling of mobile phone batteries etc exposes the manpower used in recycling directly to hazardous substances.
  • Manpower working in dumpsites are majorly adolescents which are working barefooted, barehanded and are directly exposed to toxins.
  • e-Waste mitigation faces a problem between central and state government for norms and legislation.

Different hazardous waste material of e-Waste:

PollutantSourceImpact
Lead, Lead OxidePrinted circuit boards, batteries cathode ray tubes.Nervous system
BerylliumMotherboards and printed boards.Lungs and Skin
MercuryLCD, CFL, SwitchesNervous system and Skin
Ozone depleting substancesACs, RefrigeratorsRespiratory system and Skin
CadmiumComputer Batteries, MonitorsKidney and Liver
Polychlorinated Bi-PhenylsComputer Monitors, capacitors and TransformersImmune system and Hormonal imbalance
Brominated flame retardantsPlastic, Printed circuit boardsNervous system and Hormonal imbalance
Poly Vinyl ChlorideCables and insulationsImmune System
BariumCircuit Boards/MotherboardsHeart and Lungs
phThalate plasticizersRubberHormonal imbalance and Cancer
BromineCircuit Boards and CoolantsHormonal imbalance

You may want to check Climate Change Articles.

Why e-Waste is a problem in india?

  • The global market or trade of the hazardous waste material is increasing owing to cheap electronic goods and manufacturing in the country.
  • India is part of many free trade agreements as a means of waste trading as a result of which the import rules for waste are liberalised and amount of waste import has increased.
  • To produce cheaper electronic goods, waste trading has become an essential part of the trade for procedures of e-Waste imports are easier and simple.
  • Many groups are involved with illegal e-Waste trading as well as unorganised sector economy of e-Waste material is increasing annually.
  • e-Waste trading can be regulated by Bamako Convention and Rotterdam convention which required strict rules, which do not follow the economic compulsion of the free trade agreement leads to eased environment assessment compliances, rules and guidelines.
  • Responsibility of the waste producers, recyclers are not fixed properly and market driven resources for e-Waste resettlement are less.

Government’s e-Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • EPR (Extended Producers Responsibility) has been brought  up for the first time for all the electronic clusters in the country as well as importers of electronic goods.
  • Market arrangements have been taken up for financial adjustments for EPR in eWaste management.
  • It is the responsibility of the goods manufacturer to establish authorized vendors waste pickers to bring in the electronic goods and material back from the market.
  • Dumping of the e-Waste material without treatment in solid waste management sites is strictly prohibited.
  • e-Waste recyclers are also brought into ambit.

Major Stakeholders: Producer ,Bulk Consumers, Collection Centre, Dismantler, Recycler, SPCBs/PCCs, CPCB.

Criticism:

  • The guideline doesn’t addresses the illegal import and recycling of the e-Waste material.
  • The state of manpower and workers in e-Waste recycling sites and their health hazards have not been addressed.
  • With the national electronics mission of zero import by 2020 guidelines may remain inefficient to address environmental concerns of the sector.

Way Forward:

  • Effective awareness would be the right step for all the stakeholders.
  • Need for adopting the environmentally friendly e-Waste recycling practices.
  • Unless we have effective implementation of the rules, the country would end up creating many informal processing hubs.
  • Strict implementation of the rules and creating adequate awareness and training to informal sector can be a step towards success.
  • The sector needs to be integrated with the IT sector for better insemination of the information and network mapping and management in this area.
  • This sector needs to provide business aspects and generate job to make it a desirable success for the country by the people.
  • Waste pickers needs to be trained and better equipped for the tasks.
  • Learning from international community can make a huge difference. E.g., Norway model of e-Waste Management.

With the increasing dependence on electronic and electrical equipment, the rise of E-waste generation is well expected in the country. However, the management of the same is a major challenge faced by the country. In India, the amount of E-waste generated is rising rapidly. We need to study the causes of generation of e-Waste and its effects including detrimental health and environmental  effects.

Photo Credit: Emmet (https://www.pexels.com/@emmet-35167) (https://instagram.com/bigoldyak/) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNVqyzNHqIg&ref=pexels)

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