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Biodiversity & Environment

E-Waste Generation

  • 19 Oct 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

International E-Waste Day has been observed on 14th October since 2018.

International E-Waste Day

  • This year's International E-Waste Day highlights the crucial role each of us play in making e-product circularity a reality.
  • According to the United Nations, by 2021, each person on the planet would produce an average of 7.6 kg of e-waste, resulting in a global total of 57.4 million tonnes of e-waste.
  • Only 17.4% of this electronic garbage, which contains a combination of hazardous compounds and valuable materials, will be appropriately collected, processed, and recycled.

Key Points

  • E-Waste:
    • E-Waste is short for Electronic-Waste and the term is used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded electronic appliances. It includes their components, consumables, parts and spares.
    • It is categorised into 21 types under two broad categories:
      • Information technology and communication equipment.
      • Consumer electrical and electronics.
    • Laws to manage e-waste have been in place in India since 2011, mandating that only authorised dismantlers and recyclers collect e-waste. E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 was enacted in 2017.
    • India’s first e-waste clinic for segregating, processing and disposal of waste from household and commercial units has been set-up in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
    • Originally, the Basel Convention (1992) did not mention e-waste but later it addressed the issues of e-waste in 2006 (COP8).
      • The Nairobi Declaration was adopted at COP9 of the Basel Convention on the Control of the Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste. It aimed at creating innovative solutions for the environmentally sound management of electronic wastes.
  • E-waste Generation:
    • This year’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) will total about 57.4 million tonnes (MT) and will be greater than the weight of the Great Wall of China, Earth’s heaviest artificial object.
    • According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generated more than 10 lakh tonnes of e-waste in 2019-20, an increase from 7 lakh tonnes in 2017-18. Against this, the e-waste dismantling capacity has not been increased from 7.82 lakh tonnes since 2017-18.
  • Challenges Related to Management of E-Waste in India:
    • Less Involvement of People:
      • A key factor in used electronic devices not being given for recycling was because consumers themselves did not do so.
        • However, in recent years, countries around the world have been attempting to pass effective 'right to repair' laws.
    • Involvement of Child Labor:
      • In India, about 4.5 lakh child laborers in the age group of 10-14 are observed to be engaged in various E-waste activities and that too without adequate protection and safeguards in various yards and recycling workshops.
    • Ineffective Legislation:
      • There is absence of any public information on most State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)/PCC websites.
    • Health hazards:
      • E-waste contains over 1,000 toxic materials, which contaminate soil and groundwater.
    • Lack of incentive schemes:
      • No clear guidelines are there for the unorganized sector to handle E-waste.
      • Also, no incentives are mentioned to lure people engaged to adopt a formal path for handling E-waste.
    • E-waste Imports:
      • Cross-border flow of waste equipment into India- 80% of E-waste in developed countries meant for recycling is sent to developing countries such as India, China, Ghana and Nigeria.
    • Reluctance of Authorities’ involved:
      • Lack of coordination between various authorities responsible for E-waste management and disposal including the non-involvement of municipalities.
    • Security Implications:
      • End of life computers often contain sensitive personal information and bank account details which, if not deleted leave opportunity for fraud.

Way Forward

  • There are various startups and companies in India that have now started to collect and recycle electronic waste. We need better implementation methodologies and inclusion policies that provide accommodation and validation for the informal sector to step up and help us meet our recycling targets in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Also, successfully raising collection rates required every actor to be involved, including consumers.

Source: DTE

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