World Environment Day: E-waste is a major problem for India and here is how you can help combat it

According to a report by Assocham and KPMG pointed out that India is the fifth largest producer of e-waste amounting up to 18.5 lakh tonne of electronic tonnes per day.

The world community across the globe celebrates the World Environment Day to encourage conservation and preservation of the environment. The people come together to create awareness drives about the important of the environment and how people can contribute to the cause of preserving the planet. However, other things like recycling and waste management have progressively grown over the years to attain a paramount focus.

The reason for this focus is because the amount of waste produced across the world is increasing at an alarming rate. Most of the things that we consume in our daily life is made out of non-renewable resources and these materials are increasingly getting scarce as time goes by. With the increase in waste generation caused in turn by an increase in consumption, the pressure on existing supply chain is forcing the suppliers to dig deeper for precious metals or make new artificial materials.

World Environment Day: E-waste is a major problem for India and here is how you can help combat it

Image Credit: REUTERS

The problem

To give you a perspective, the amount of solid waste generated in Mumbai in the year 1999-2000 was around 5,355 tonnes per day. This number has gone up to 11,000 tonnes per day. This marks about more than 200 percent increase in the amount of waste produced in less than one and a half decade. The increase is more drastic when compared in Delhi with an increase of over 2000 percent increase from 400 tonnes per day to 8,700 tonnes per day in the same amount of time according to the report by Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (CPCB).

Image Credit: REUTERS

Image Credit: REUTERS

According to a report by Assocham and KPMG pointed out that India is the fifth largest producer of e-waste amounting up to 18.5 lakh tonnes of electronic waste per day. The report goes on to say that about 12 percent of all the e-waste generated in the country is related to telecom equipment. The amount of e-waste generated will only grow over time because of the fact that India is a developing country. Additionally, there are no concrete laws and institutions set up to tackle the problem. A recent report by Associated Press terms the level of e-waste in south Asia as severe, and points out that it that could have adversely affect the health of the locals.

Government Initiatives

Government is gradually moving forward to contextual issues to the main problem of pollution and garbage. These include the rules for buffer area around waste processing and disposal facilities. The Government passed new guidelines for e-waste management last year which talks about the extended producer responsibility plan (EPR-Plan), rules for estimating e-waste generation, collection, transportation, storage, and treatment of e-waste. The government has improved on the previous guidelines passed in 2011 by adding rules to the amount of space required for dismantlers in addition to guide lines. One interesting thing to note here is that government is also asking for inputs from the public with consultation papers about the policy and rules.

Image Credit: REUTERS

Image Credit: REUTERS

Recyclers and dismantlers

Despite the lack of any formal support from the government in terms of financial aid or anything, there are a number of private companies that are entering the e-recycling market. There companies usually offer services to collect your electronics from your house and then refurbish, dismantle or recycle the products. The government has also provided a list of authorised and registered e-waste recyclers in India so you can also sent your electronics to these authorised recyclers and dismantlers. According to the list, 178 recyclers and dismantlers have registered with the government for licenses. The list was posted on 29 December 2016. This marks an increase in the number of license holders from 138 in the previous list posted on 27 November 2014. Some of the notable companies include:

1. ATTERO, Electronic Asset Management Company
2. Ecoreco, Eco Recycling Limited
4. E-incarnation
5. E-Parisaraa Private Limited

What can consumers do about it?

Consumers can contact the companies mentioned in the list to arrange the pickup of their electronics or they can check the list mentioned above to donate their electronics for recycling. According to the ‘Guide to Greener Electronics’ and ‘Cool IT Leaderboard’, electronics companies like Xiaomi, Wipro, HP and HCL are leading the initiative of reducing e-waste by recycling. These reports by Green Peace organisation may be outdated at the time of writing but they give a general idea about IT companies starting with championing the green cause.

Last but not the least, the local kabadiwalas and raddiwalas, that are predominantly known for collecting waste in India are not the right people to give your e-waste to. E-waste recycling is a harmful process with serious consequences on the health of the workers employed by these local scrap collectors. The process requires special skills along with precise set of equipments which makes them unprepared for e-waste collection and recycling efforts.

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