New Delhi: India needs to buck up to fight another waste management battle – the growing pile of e-waste. According to a recent report by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCAHM)-NEC India is among the top five countries in the world, in terms of e-waste generation. India continues to generate high volumes of e-waste next only to China, USA, Japan and Germany. According to the study, India generates 2 million tonnes of waste per annum of which only 4.3 lakhs (4,38,085) tonnes per annum (TPA) is recycled.
What Is E-waste?
Electronic waste or e-waste essentially relates to the discarded electronic devices and gadgets such as discarded computer monitors, mobile phones, chargers, compact discs, headphones, televisions, air conditioners, refrigerators and many more.
E-waste Generation In India
According to the joint study by ASSOCHAM-NEC, out of the total e-waste produced in 2016, only 20 per cent (8.9 MT) is documented to be collected properly and recycled, while there is no record of the remaining e-waste.
The study also gives numbers on which electronic item contributes more towards e-waste. Within e-waste generated in India, computer equipment has a major share – it accounts for almost 70 per cent of the waste material, telecommunication equipment covers 12 per cent, electrical equipment 8 per cent, medical equipment 7 per cent and other items make up for the remaining 4 per cent.
As per the joint study, of 2 million tonnes (MT) of e-waste generated in India, Maharashtra leads among states and generates 19.8 per cent (3,96,000 TPA) of e-waste, but recycles only about 47,810 TPA. While Tamil Nadu generates 13 per cent (2,60,000 TPA), it recycles 52,427 TPA. Uttar Pradesh which contributes by 10.1 per cent (2,02,000) recycles 86,130 TPA.
E-waste Recycling In India
According to the report, the reason behind the poor state of e-waste management in India is low level of infrastructure, legislation and framework. Despite having over 160 units to process e-waste, only around 22 per cent (4.3 TPA or 4,38,085 TPA) of the e-waste is recycled in India.
Among states Karnataka leads in terms of the number of recycling units in the state, followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
Considering the number of e-waste recycling units in the country and the e-waste generated in India, the country needs more number of recycling units. Like, Uttar Pradesh, which is one of the major e-waste contributors (generates 2,02,000 TPA) has only 22 units to process 86,130 tonnes of e-waste, which is not even the half of the e-waste generated by the state. While Karnataka has 57 e-waste recycling units with a capacity to process nearly 44,620 tonnes of e-waste out of a total of 1.78 lakh TPA (25 percent) generated and Maharashtra has 32 units which can recycle 47,810 tonnes of the 3.96 lakh TPA of e-waste generated that is 12 percent.
It is time that India increase the number of e-waste recycling units and tackle the waste at war footing.
Why Is E-waste Management A Need Of The Hour?
Mismanagement of e-waste has both environmental and human effect. Liquid and atmospheric emissions from e-waste make its way into water bodies, soil, and air. This has an adverse impact on the crops, drinking water, consumed by both humans and animals. Prolonged exposure to pollutants released from e-waste can cause damage to kidneys, blood system, respiratory diseases, skin disorders, lung cancer and many more.
Apart from this, the study suggests government to take a lesson or two from other countries for effective management of e-waste. Like, Seoul recycles all the waste it produces. How do they do it? 20 per cent of the e-waste generated is sent to Seoul Resource Centre to extract valuable metals. The remaining waste is used for land filling. The government can also take the privatisation route just like United Kingdom that has given the responsibility of e-waste management to a private company ‘Concept’.