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Electronic Waste

Electronics industry is the world’s largest and fastest growing industry. The last decade has seen a tremendous growth in the manufacturing and consumption of electronic and electrical equipments all over the world. As a consequence of this growth, combined with rapid product obsolescence and lower costs, discarded electronic and electrical equipments or ‘e-waste’ is now the most rapidly growing waste problem in the world.

E-waste is end-of-life electronic and electrical gadgets. In simpler words, they are the broken, surplus or obsolete gadgets run by electricity. It includes discarded equipments like computers, printers, phones, TVs, fridges, toaster, electronic toys, etc.

India, currently, is estimated to generate more than 4 lakh tonnes of e-waste annually. The generation is estimated to go up many times in coming years, making it a critical issue. However, e-waste is not just a problem of waste quantity or volumes. The concern is compounded because of the presence of toxic materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, certain brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and many other chemicals.

In a developing country like India, most e-wastes land up in the informal sector, where it is recycled without any consideration to health and environment. Open burning, acid baths, unventilated work spaces and crude handling of chemicals are typical of these operations, where susceptible groups like children and women are regularly employed. With no safety equipments at hand, the workers in some of the recycling hotspots spread all over the country, are exposed to the toxic cocktails daily. The unregulated practices also release hazardous materials in air, water and soil, thereby endangering our environment.

E-waste also contains valuable non-renewal materials. Hence, there is the necessity to recycle materials and reduce burden on mining of virgin materials. Recovery of these materials without any adverse impact on environment requires a set of complex operations and highly advanced technology. Some of these complexities and concerns for environment created conditions for the policy makers in many parts of the world to involve the producers/product manufacturers to own responsibility for the end-of-life disposal of these products and introduction of a policy tool ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ (EPR).

Toxics Link has been actively campaigning on the issue of safe management of e-waste in the country through various researches, reports and awareness building exercises. It has been actively involved in pushing the national government for a separate rule on e-waste, which finally saw success with the notification of E-Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011 which was notified by the Government of India in May 2011 and it came into force in May 2012. The Rules are based on EPR principle and assign responsibility to producers for collection and processing of e-waste. One-year period was provided to the stakeholder, especially the producers, to set up systems and infrastructure for an effective take back programme and further channelisation of e-waste. Unfortunately, there is not much progress on the take back system.

  • Interventions

    Toxics Link research study on E-Waste ...

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  • Publications

    Toxics Link publication on E-Waste.........

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  • Media on E-Waste

    Toxics Link Media on E-Waste........

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