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E-Waste Management in India

  • Context (TH): As per GoI data, over 5 lakh tonnes of e-waste has been collected and processed in the year 2021-22.
  • E-waste refers to electronic products that are unwanted, not working, or nearing or at the end of their “useful life.

Status of E-Waste in India

  • As per Global E-waste Monitor 2020, India is the 3rd largest electronic waste producer in the world, generating about 2 million tons of e-waste annually, with its share increasing by 31%.
  • Around 95% of e-waste is recycled informally by unorganized workers.

Importance of e-waste management

  • Environmental conservation: Improper disposal of waste leads to the release of various harmful toxins like lead, mercury, cadmium, etc.
  • Resource conservation: Recycling of e-waste reduces the need for new resource extraction as e-waste contains various valuable materials like gold, silver, etc.
  • Economic opportunities: Provide filip to a circular economy, create employment opportunities and promote entrepreneurship.
  • Sustainable development: Aligns with the principles of environmental, social and economic aspects by promoting environmental stewardship.

Challenges in e-waste Management

  • Poor infrastructure: Shortage of authorised recycling facilities and collection centres leads to waste ending up in unregulated facilities exacerbating environmental degradation.  
  • Absence of a clear mechanism for collecting and transporting e-waste from consumers to recyclers.
  • Inadequate regulatory design and enforcement compounded by a lack of coordination and cooperation among various stakeholders and authorities involved in e-waste management.
  • Fragmented supply chain: 95% of waste is recycled by the informal sector which often operates in unsafe and unregulated working conditions.
  • Lack of reliable information on e-waste generation rates, its types making it difficult to plan and implement effective policies and strategies.
  • Lack of awareness: Many consumers and stakeholders are not aware of the environmental and health impacts of e-waste, or the benefits of proper disposal and recycling.

Way Forward

  • Provide market information about e-waste prices to create a transparent and competitive market for e-waste collection and recycling.
  • Incentivizing formal e-waste recycling by providing financial support, tax benefits, subsidies, or recognition to formal e-waste recyclers.
  • Recognize informal sector as the stakeholder in future e-waste regime and integrating them into the formal system through certification, registration, or partnerships.
  • Developing innovative technologies for processing new forms of e-waste.
  • Enhancing coordination and cooperation among various stakeholders and authorities involved in e-waste management.
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