E-waste management in India

Source : http://www.
Author : bharat.charan
Published on : August 23, 2011


  
bharat.charan's Profile and details

E-waste management in India

(Pros & Cons)
Electronic waste, e-waste, e-scrap or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) describes loosely discarded, surplus, obsolete; or broken electrical or electronic devices.

E-waste contains both valuable materials such as gold, palladium, silver and copper, it also contains harmful substances like lead, cadmium and mercury. In the absence of suitable techniques and protective measures, recycling e-waste can result in toxic emission to the air, water and soil and pose a serious health and environmental hazard.

MEANING
Electronic waste or e-waste is any broken or unwanted electrical or electronic appliance. E-waste includes computers, entertainment electronics, mobile phones and other items that have been discarded by their original users.

GLOBAL SCENARIO
In the present era developed countries dumping their e-wastes in developing countries like India, China and part of Africa in the name of charity. The developing countries are becoming dump yards of e-waste due to their weak laws and because US has not ratified the Basal Convention and there is no domestic laws forbidding the export of toxic waste. E-waste is being sent to these countries for processing, sometime illegally.

INDIAN SCENARIO
E-waste management assumes greater significance not only due to the generation of our own waste but also dumping of e-waste from the developed countries. Rag pickers and waste dealers found it easy to adapt to the new waste stream, resulting in a large number of new business focusing on the reuse of components or extraction of secondary raw materials. Some of the recycling processes are extremely harmful and have negative impacts on the workers health and environment.

MAIN SOURCES
1. Imports
2. PC retailers manufactures
3. Government, Public and Private sectors discarding old devices
4. Secondary market of old PCs and individual households

EXISTING LEGISLATION
Transboundary movement of e-waste covered under the basal convention.
Hazardous waste management and handling rules.

BENEFITS
Conversation of resources
Recycling recovers valuable materials from old electronics that can be used to make new product. As a result, we save energy, reduce pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth.

Elimination of health and environmental hazardous
The major benefits of e-waste recycling are the elimination of the health and environment hazards caused by disposal of untreated e-waste. When e-waste finds its way into landfills such toxic metals seep out and contaminate the soil and water, causing health problems and polluting the atmosphere. Incinerating e-waste produces volatilized heavy metals that cause an even more significant public health hazard.

Energy efficiency
The benefits of e-waste recycling extend to significant reduction of energy requirements. The energy cost to recycle e-waste for minerals is considerably less than the energy costs to mine minerals. Energy savings resultant from e-waste recycling also produce many indirect benefits such as less dependence on finite oil reserves, reduction of air pollution caused by energy production, and decline in greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Economic growth
The financial benefits of recycling or the ability of recycled e-waste to generate income makes it one of the fastest growing business opportunity. It generates jobs opportunity which lead to the economic development of the country.

Increase job opportunities
E-Cycling creates jobs for professional recyclers and refurbishes and creates new markets for the valuable components that are dismantled.

SHORTCOMINGS
Improper implementation of laws
Existing laws relating to e-waste management and handling have not been implemented properly. There is a lack of uniformity. The US has not ratified the Basal Convention which prevents the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries like India.

Legally or illegally importing
Import of used computer and other electronic waste in our country from developed countries such as USA, Australia, Canada and parts of Europe causes damage to the environment and increases pollution. These imports are sometimes illegal also.

Lack of proper investment
Investment in this sector is a big problem. Investment is poor as the incentives in this sector are low and with hardly any profit margin.

Old tradition of recycling
Developing countries such as India still apply old traditional methods for recycling the e-waste. Such methods include incineration, landfills etc.

Misuse of Indian low cost technology
India is a developing country and has an inexpensive method of processing and handling E-waste. Hence developed countries misuse Indian low cost technology and dump their hazardous e-waste in our country in order to save on costs.

SUGGESTED CHANGES
Ban on import
There should be total ban on importing e-waste. The government is planning to Ban the imports of used computers and e-waste. Even though there is a conflict between the Finance Ministry which wants the ban and the Commerce ministry which is against the ban since in their opinion commerce will suffer as a result of the ban.

Proper collection of e-waste
There should be proper collection of e-waste for recycling. It should be directly collected by recyclers or their agents.

Improve the quality of electric or electrical appliances
The producers of electronic or electrical device should improve the quality of their products. Age of Computer reduces 3-5 year from 7 year.

Impose penalty
Government should impose a heavy penalty on those who do not follow the prescribed method or procedure for discarding e-waste.

Organize Awareness campaigns

The central as well as state government should organize awareness campaign to enlighten the citizen about the harms of improper e-waste disposal.

Attract investment in this sector
The government must provide subsidies to the recycler and thus encourage the private banking sector to invest in it.

Improve environmentally sound recycling infrastructure
The recycler should stop traditional method of recycling the e-waste like incineration, landfill etc and adopt sound, ecology friendly techniques and sound infrastructure for recycling.

Amend the domestic rules and laws relating to e-waste
The government should make existing laws more rigid so that the developed countries cannot dump their e-waste in our country.

Tie recycling in with take back product responsibility
There should be an agreement among the seller, buyer and recycler of any electronic or electric products. There should be tri party agreement in which everyone has a liability towards other, it means that buyer should give back the product to the seller when products become obsolete or old and then the seller should give such products to the recycler.

Low cost technology
India as a developing country needs simpler cost technology keeping view of maximum resource recovery in an environmental friendly methodology.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS
E-waste is one of the rapidly growing environment problems of the world. Disposal of e-waste raises serious environmental and health issues. Improper recycling and disposal of e-waste can result in dangerous health and environmental hazards from toxic chemicals and persistent pollutants. Recycling e-waste is not just a viable solution to eliminate the harmful effects of e-waste disposal but a sound business proposition in itself.

Authors contact info - articles The  author can be reached at: bharatcharan.ail@legalserviceindia.com