What are the rules and regulations to dispose of e-waste in India?

Electronic waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is defined under the Basel Convention as,

‘Electrical or electronic equipment that is waste, including all components, sub-assemblies and consumables that are part of the equipment at the time the equipment becomes waste.’

Under the Basel Convention, e-waste can be categorized as hazardous or non-hazardous waste. It is hazardous when it has toxic materials such as mercury, lead, or brominated flame retardants.

E-waste and E-waste (Management) Rules

E-waste (Management) Rules 2016, amended in 2018,  provides the framework and guidelines for the proper collection, segregation, disposal, and recycling of electrical equipment. The amendment revised the Extended Producer Responsibility. Additionally, it aims to collect 70% of e-waste that is generated as indicated in Extended Producer Responsibility.

Extended Producer Responsibility is the responsibility of every producer of electrical and electronic equipment for channelization of e-waste to an authorized dismantler/ recycler to ensure environmentally sound management of such waste. 

Read more: Implementation Guidelines for E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016

E-waste in India

As per TheRoundup.org, 57.4 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated in the year 2021. China, the US, and India are the top e-waste generators globally.

According to the Annual report 2020-2021 by CPCB, 2,22,436 tonnes of e-waste was recycled and dismantled out of the total 10,14,961 tonnes of e-waste that was generated in the year 2020. This means that 21% of the total e-waste was collected and recycled. There are around 2,759 e-waste collection centers of EPR-authorized producers in the country for collection of waste but most of them are not implementing their full capacity.

Read more: ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

According to a report published in the Journal of Health and Pollution, Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore are the top three e-waste generators. Approximately 95% of generated e-waste is managed by the unorganized sector and scrap dealers. In addition, they dismantle the discarded products instead of recycling them. In India, about 400,000 to 500,000 child laborers between 10-15 years of age are involved in various e-waste activities, the report also stated.

Read more: The Emerging Environmental and Public Health Problem of Electronic Waste in India – PMC

Conclusion

With growing technology, e-waste generation is only expected to increase in the near future. Therefore there is a need to be more aware of our choices and break consumerist patterns and we must regularly repair our electronic equipment to use them effectively. We can increase the typical life of various technological gadgets by getting them serviced on schedule. Companies can also mandate that customers trade their old electronics for new ones.

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