- By 2020, e-waste in India can reach 32,40,0000 metric tonnes
- The report recommends employing of alternative solutions by the government
- The report also looks at privatisation of e-waste management as an option
In its battle against solid and liquid waste, the dangers posed by other types of waste are often ignored, only to emerge as bigger problems later. Electronic waste or e-waste is one such problem where the hazards are serious in nature, but due to low awareness and even lower recycling rate, the danger it poses remains clouded. India generates nearly 18 lakh metric tonnes of e-waste, contributes a big 12 per cent to the global total and ranks fifth in the list of countries which are the largest producers of e-waste. In three years, the country is in danger of producing e-waste which is 1800 per cent more than what the country presently generates.
A joint study carried out by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and KPMG estimated that by 2020, e-waste generation in India will reach 32,40,0000 metric tonnes, an unimaginable and unmanageable number. Despite the E-Waste Management Rules 2016 being in place, India has managed to recycle only 36,000 metric tonnes of e-waste showing how ineffective the e-waste management scenario has been.
E-waste is a major problem but methods to tackle it have never been implemented with utmost seriousness. The problem is the lack of awareness among local civic bodies, as well as them not having much idea what to do with e-waste as e-waste recycling is different from traditional solid waste recycling, said Asok Kumar Das, Vice Chairman, Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers and author of the report ‘E-Waste Management In India: Current Scenario.’
Efforts to tackle e-waste have been feeble across India and even the states have not shown much interest. In May 2017, Delhi government authorised 37 e-waste collection centres across the city which will function exclusively as collection points for garbage collectors to deposit electronic waste. Assam has also been instrumental in its e-waste management programme, with regular awareness programmes. But the response from other states has not been very encouraging.
Recognising the unorganised nature of the electronics industry, the ASSOCHAM-KPG report has come up with a few suggestions which authorities handling e-waste might find useful, if they are to tackle the problem with seriousness.
- Recognition of E-Waste as a problem at par with other types of waste is a must. The report suggests that the seriousness of e-waste must be recognised across all state governments and civic bodies. Recycling will become a priority only if the grave nature of e-waste is realised by authorities across the country.
- The government can choose to explore the option of collaborating with the electronics industry to draw a set of procedures which will help in the management of e-waste.
- Government must itself adhere to and ask other regional/local bodies to adhere to the E-Waste Management Rules of 2016. The phase wise collection of 70 per cent e-waste over a period of seven years must be made a priority and the same must be given to the states as a target.
- The government can draw inspiration from the example of countries like South Korea, which manages to recycle nearly 21 per cent of its 0.8 million tonnes of e-waste. Solutions employed by South Korea include higher number of e-waste collection centres and e-waste collection drives conducted by local bodies, methods which can be adopted in India as well.
- Lastly, the government may consider privatisation of e-waste management. The current government is already burdened with solid waste management. If management and recycling of e-waste is handed over to private organisations, like in the United Kingdom, efficiency and recycling rate of e-waste management is likely to go higher.
Any task undertaken must have its share of incentives which attract stakeholders. In the field of e-waste management, the government must announce incentives, which could be in the form of tax concessions or rebates, to ensure compliance across the electronics industry. Additionally, the e-waste collection targets need to be regularly reviewed and renewed to ensure compliance across India on collection of electronic waste.