As we know that India is the world’s largest consumer of mobile phones. Also, the use of TVs, laptops are increasing. So they are increasing e-waste also. E-waste management is growing at a compound annual growth rate of about 30% in the country.

However, according to a 2011 secretariat study of Rajya Sabha, e-waste accounts for approx 70% of Indian landfills.

E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 including restrictions on usage of hazardous substances is a subject under the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).

In fact, the government passed their first law on e-waste management in the year of 2011, which is based on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

What is EPR?

EPR stands for extended producer responsibilities. It is a global best practice to ensure the take-back of end-of-life products. The onus is on the producer for the management of the final stages of the life of its product.

It includes:

  • Take back system or setting up of collection centres either both options.
  • Agreed arrangements with authorised recycler through a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO).

Role of PRO

  • It helps producers meet their EPR targets through various recyclers and dismantlers in the country.
  • PRO is responsible for all setting up a collection mechanism for the targeted material and also creates awareness for recycling of e-waste.

E-waste management rules 2016

  • It was enacted on October 1, in the year of 2017.
  • Moreover, approx 21 products were included under the purview of the rule.
  • It includes components or consumables or parts or spares of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE), along with their products.
  • It provisions target for the producers.
  • The producers should also have to buy-back or return all the offers for old equipment.
  • Manufacturers are mandated to take back their all sold products with some recommended mechanisms.
  • Every producer shall ensure that new EEE and their components do not contain pollutants such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers beyond a maximum concentration value.
  • Moreover, each and every producer will provide all the detailed information on the constituents of the equipment with some declaration of conformance to the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) provisions in the product user documentation.
  • All the placement in the market for new electrical and also electronic equipment shall be permitted only for those which are compliant.
  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shall conduct random sampling of electrical and also electronic equipment which is placed on the market to the monitor.
  • If the product does not comply with RoHS provisions, the producers shall take corrective measures to bring the product into compliance, and also withdraw all the products.
  • To create some important awareness among all the public about some hazards of E-waste recycling by an unorganised sector, the Ministry of Electronics and also Information Technology (IT), MeitY, has initiated an E-waste awareness programme under the "Digital India" initiatives.
  • Moreover, the general public is also encouraged to participate in the ‘Swachh Digital Bharat’.
  • Informal processing hubs in Moradabad and Seelampur, have polluted soil, water and air.
  • E-waste should be given authorised recyclers only.
  • Unique methods, the exclusively for processing circuit boards, have been developed. Circuit boards are a major part of e-waste.
  • Moreover, E-waste also contains some plastic, up to approx 25% of its weight. So plastic management is very important.
  • Currently, India’s e-waste rules have no laws mandating solar cell India’s PV (photovoltaic) waste.
  • Solar cell modules are made by processing sand to make silicon, casting silicon ingots, using wafers to create cells and then assembling them to make modules.
  • Photovoltaic’s generate electric power by using solar cells to convert energy from the sun into a flow of electrons by the photovoltaic effect.

International efforts:

  1. E-waste Coalition
  • It includes the International Labour Organization (ILO); International Telecommunication Union (ITU); United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment); UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization); United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); United Nations University(UNU) and Secretariats of the Basel and also Stockholm Conventions.
  • There are seven UN entities have come together to launch the report- “A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for Global Reboot”- at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland).
  • It calls for a new vision for e-waste based on the “circular economy” concepts.

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose of) in which we keep some resources in use for long-lasting, and extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, and then recover and also regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

  • E-waste export is regulated under all the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and also their disposal, which has been ratified by approx 188 nations.
  • Globally, only approx 20% of e-waste is recycled. Rest is buried under the ground in landfills for centuries as it is not biodegradable. It causes large scale pollution.