The growth in the science and IT sector set up the industrial revolution in the 18th century which resulted in human civilization.
In the 20th century, Our lives changed completely because of the IT sector’s growth.
But at the same time,faster upgrading of electronic products forces users to scrape old electronic products quickly which leads to e-waste.
According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report the world dumped a record 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste last year. Only 17.4% was recycled.
China, with 10.1 million tonnes, was the biggest contributor to e-waste, and the United States was second with 6.9 million tonnes. India, with 3.2 million tonnes, was third. Together these three countries accounted for nearly 38% of the world’s e-waste last year
This electronic waste creates problems for human life and the environment.
The growing problem of e-waste calls for greater emphasis on recycling e-waste and better e-waste management.
What is E-Waste?
E-Waste or Electronic Waste is generate when any electronic or electrical products becomes unusable to use or if the product is expired.
This happens because of rapid upgradation in the electrical or electronic products, the old ones replaced with new models.
Computers, servers, mainframes, monitors, compact discs (CDs), printers, scanners, copiers, calculators, fax machines, battery cells, cellular phones, transceivers, TVs, iPods, medical apparatus, washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners are examples of e-waste (when unfit for use).
This leads to an increase in E-Waste.Also India, with 3.2 million tonnes, was third in 2020 according to Global E-Waste Monitor.
E-Waste is injurious to human health, environment and toxic in nature,the incapability of India in recycling e-waste to mine precious and critical materials is a loss to the country’s economy as well.
Composition of E-waste
E-waste typically consists of plastics, metals, cathode ray tubes (CRTs), printed cables, circuit boards, and so on.
Valuable metals such as copper, silver, gold, and platinum could be recovered from e-wastes, if they are scientifically processed. The presence of toxic substances such as liquid crystal, lithium, mercury, nickel, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), selenium, arsenic, barium, brominated flame retardants, cadmium, chrome, cobalt, copper, and lead, makes it very hazardous, if e-waste is dismantled and processed in a crude manner with rudimentary techniques.
Consumers are the key to better management of e-waste. Initiatives such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR); Design for Environment (DfE); Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (3Rs), technology platform for linking the market facilitating a circular economy aim to encourage consumers to correctly dispose their e-waste, with increased reuse and recycling rates, and adopt sustainable consumer habits.
Challenges for E-waste Management in India
In India E-Waste management is an important informal sector activity. This is something that has started in India in past decades and for a vast country like India, it is understandable for India to face certain challenges for the purpose of E-recycling.
This is something that has started in India in past decades and for a vast country like India, it is understandable for India to face certain challenges for the purpose of E-recycling.
The common recycling practices for middle-class urban households, particularly for waste paper, plastic, clothing, or metal, is to sell out to small-scale, informal sector buyers often known as ‘kabadiwalas,’ and they further sort and sell these as an input material to artisanal or industrial processors.
E-waste management in India follows a similar pattern. An informal e-waste recycling sector employs thousands of households in urban areas to collect, sort, repair, refurbish, and dismantle disused electrical and electronic products.
However, there is a different situation in advanced countries, and there is no concept in India of consumers voluntarily donating the useless electrical and electronic equipment at formal e-waste recycling centers. Also, there is not a concept of consumers paying for disposal of the e-waste they generate.
Challenges are as follows:
E-waste volume generated
India ranks fifth in e-waste production at about 1.7 lakh tons per year.
Involvement of Child Labor
In India, about 4.5 lakh children working between the ages of 10 to 14 are considered to be involved in various E-waste activities and that without adequate protection in various premises and rehabilitated workplaces. Therefore, there is an urgent need to introduce effective legislation to prevent the entry of children into the E-waste market – its collection, classification, and distribution.
There is no public information on most SPCBs / PCC websites. 15 of the 35 PCBs / 35 PCCs do not have E-waste related information on their websites, their point being a visible public connector.
The basic E-waste Rules and guidelines are also needed to be uploaded. If there is no information on their website, especially the details of recycling personnel and E-waste collectors, residents and waste producers who are losing their waste and do not know how to fulfill their responsibility. Therefore, there is a failure in the effective implementation of the E-Management Waste Management Regulations.
Lack of infrastructure
There is a huge gap between present recycling and collection facilities and the quantum of E-waste that is being generated. No collection and take back mechanisms are in place. There is a lack of recycling facilities.
E-waste contains more than 1,000 toxic substances, which pollute the soil and groundwater. Exposure can cause headaches, irritability, nausea, vomiting, and eye pain. Recyclers can suffer from liver, kidney, and emotional problems. Out of ignorance, they risked their lives and their environment.
Lack of incentive schemes
No clear guidelines exist for the informal sector to manage E-waste. And no incentives have been raised to lure people involved in the legal process of E-waste management. Conditions in the field of informal reform are much worse than in the formal sector. There are no schemes to encourage producers to do something to manage e-waste.
Poor awareness and sensitization
Limited access and notification regarding disposal, after determining the expiration date. And only 2% of people think about the impact on the environment while discarding their old electrical and electronic equipment.
Importation of waste equipment falling into India – 80 percent of E-waste in developed countries for recycling is exported to developing countries such as India, China, Ghana, and Nigeria.
Lack of cooperation between the various authorities responsible for the management and disposal of such waste includes non-municipal involvement.
End of life computers often contain sensitive personal information and bank account details which, if not deleted leave opportunity for fraud.
High cost of setting up re-use space
In addition, the study also states that renewable technology projects (including steel and non-ferrous metals refining) are at a major economic disadvantage compared to basic process activities and are generally not economically viable.
Legal recycling companies in India apart from others are limited to pre-processing of e-waste materials, where crushed waste is exported to mines outside India. The formal sectors in India will still need to be utilized to use state-of-the-art waste recycling technology due to garbage collection problems and in part because of the difficulty of making a profit with high investment in high-tech and expensive technology.
Lack of research
Government must encourage research into the development and standards of hazardous waste management, environmental monitoring and the regulation of hazardous waste-disposal.
Opportunities of E-Waste Management in India
There is no way to end the generation of e-waste. All we can do is find and adapt more convenient ways to recycle such waste. Like rights and duties go hand in hand, challenges and opportunities go hand in hand. Everything that is a challenge for the country at large, becomes an area of opportunity as well, of course, when the solutions are provided for the challenge.
Some Solution Opportunities are as follows :
- Trained Managers: Employees want that a reputable labour team supplier shall briefly explain the expectation of the job and shall then manage the workers. This would make the employees happy, so that they do a good job and keep their job. This would help to the large extent in the problem of employee retention as well.
- Domestic legal framework to address the gaps in import of e-waste. And ensure that the framework addresses the issue of e-waste imports for recycling and re-use. A certain need to address safe disposal of domestic waste is also a requisite.
- Recycling shall be tied up with take-back products.
- Investments that shall attract the recycling sector.
- Linking of activities of the informal sector with formal sector activities.
- Promotion of technologies for recycling, like adequate ESM technology. And incorporation of precautionary principles.
- Collection Depots: In line with the example of British Columbia, the actual flow of old electronic items begins with authorized collection depots. Enter contracts in more than 100 places in B.C. receiving authorized items, where they are usually tiled in type (computers, televisions, etc.) and folded, to be sent to the assembly centre. Most of the B.C. collection centers also serve as bottles and beverages that can bring back centers, generating more business than the e-scrap side of work.
- Consolidation Points: Consolidation points are a common practice in the logistics world. They allow for LTL (less than load) to be integrated into complete loads to provide efficient transport efficiency. In the B.C. model, the next stop behind the collection centre is the assembly centre. For a company that is interested in this type of business integration, port departments to facilitate the loading and unloading of truck handling equipment, and a secure storage area for bulk products are required. For some authorities, opportunities for integration are also available.
- Basic recycling: In recycling materials, a recycler with more than 100 employees at its 25,000-square-foot facility, incoming debris is removed from pallets and recycled by equipment operators in the workplace and packaged in the appropriate pallet bin, including sectors such as circuit boards, metal, plastic and glass. For large companies, there are considerations of reputation and credit as well as the need to protect corporate confidential information.
- Secondary Process: Clean items are then shipped to other operations for further processing. Some of these materials, such as copper, may generate revenue for the recycling of raw materials, while other materials, such as glass, that will be reused will pay for better processing. Another way to continue the release of material is the use of cutting machines, which separate the electrical debris to facilitate the release of the material. The extraction is aided by a number of filtering technologies including magnets, vibrations, optical devices and eddy currents.
E-waste management is an important issue for the government of India. It is becoming a huge public health issue also increasing day by day.
It is necessary to stop it otherwise we will face a huge problem in future. Reducing the amount of toxic substances in e-products will have a positive impact on the environment.