Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) released a report on the circular economy in the Indian electronics sector, focusing on e-waste management.
  • A circular economy aims to reintroduce e-waste components and precious metals into new electronics, reducing waste.

Report Suggestions

  • The ICEA report suggests public-private partnerships to establish a comprehensive reverse supply chain for e-waste.
  • Recommendations include creating auditable databases of collected materials and developing recycling clusters.
  • Incentivizing high-yield recycling centres is crucial for maximizing product value.
  • Encouraging repair and product durability is another policy recommendation to reduce environmental impact.
  • The report suggests harnessing e-waste for economic opportunities and sustainability.

E-Waste Management in India

  • E-Waste stands for Electronic Waste, referring to discarded electronic appliances and their components.
  • E-waste management in India is primarily informal, with about 90% of collection and 70% of recycling handled by the informal sector.
  • Informal sector specializes in salvaging older devices for parts and repairs.
  • Industrial hubs like Moradabad extract precious metals like gold and silver from printed circuit boards (PCBs).
  • Policy measures are needed to encourage manufacturers to reuse old components, as seen in China’s efforts.
Challenges in E-Waste Management in India
  • Limited involvement of people in recycling electronic devices.
  • Involvement of child labour in E-waste activities.
  • Ineffective legislation and lack of public information.
  • Health hazards from toxic materials in E-waste.
  • Lack of incentive schemes for the unorganized sector.
  • Cross-border flow of waste equipment into India.
  • Reluctance and lack of coordination among authorities.
  • Security implications, as end-of-life computers may contain sensitive data.

Provisions regarding E-Waste in India:

  • India has had laws to manage e-waste since 2011, with the E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 enacted in 2017.
  • E-Waste Management Rules, 2016, amended in 2018.
  • The Union Government introduced the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022 to digitize and monitor e-waste management.
  • Producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for collection and disposal.
  • Introduction of Deposit Refund Scheme.
  • Role of State Governments in ensuring safety and skill development.
  • Penalties for rule violations.
  • Urban Local Bodies tasked with collection and channelization of orphan products.
  • Allocation of space for e-waste dismantling and recycling.

E-Waste Recycling Practices in India

  • Informal sector handles 95% of e-waste, while the formal sector manages 5%.
  • Non-formal units collect, disassemble, and chemically treat e-waste.
  • Formal sector uses advanced processes and technologies, leading to efficient recovery.
  • Recycling in the formal sector is economically viable due to shared capital equipment.
  • Formal recycling has high efficiency and recovers trace-level metals.

Preliminary steps in E-Waste Disposal and Management

  • Purchase fewer items and opt for recyclable or long-lasting products.
  • Donate or give away electronics that are no longer needed.
  • Consider selling unused electronic products.
  • Raise awareness about e-waste recycling possibilities.

Way Forward

  • Engage with informal sector workers for better e-waste management.
  • Generate employment through cooperatives and expansion of E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016.
  • Encourage consumer participation in responsible e-waste disposal.

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