E-Waste Management in India: Issues and Options Essay Sample
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E-Waste Management in India: Issues and Options Essay Sample
Did you purchase that ultra-thin laptop with endless hard-drive space and a battery that never dies? How about that stylish and sleek new mobile phone that browses the web, shoots video and plays all your favourite music? Congratulations, you have the latest electronics!!
However, have you ever wondered where your old laptop, iPod or mobile phone ended up after disposal? There is a good chance it ended up burned and dismantled by young workers in various hubs who have to inhale the poisonous fumes every day. Electronic waste or “E-waste,” a term for discarded electronic products near the end or at the end of their useful life, contains hazardous materials like mercury, arsenic, and cadmium among other toxic substances. E-waste is an emerging problem due to rapid obsolescence of consumer electronic items worldwide. Over these past ten years, consumer demand for items such as computers, mobile phones, televisions and other electronic devices has been phenomenal and is still growing at a rapid rate. Every year 20 to 50 million tonnes of E-waste is generated worldwide. The developing country like India is saddled with huge generation of this toxic waste, estimated to be more than 8 million tonnes. Given the high toxicity of components, when burned or recycled in uncontrolled environments, e-Waste results in significant damage to human health and the environment.
Our modern society must now find ways of safely and economically managing these waste streams, which requires significant investment by governments, industry and individuals in technology and education. For Example: China, India is now confronted with the huge problem of e-waste – both locally generated and internationally imported – and also both a lucrative industry and yet also a serious threat to human health and the environment. While there have been some initiatives to set regulations for e-waste management, overall, these hazardous wastes are still typically dismantled and recycled by hand in India in unorganized scrap yard settings that lack safeguards and government guidelines. Large e-waste centres exist in Delhi, Meerut, Ferozabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, with 25,000 recyclers working in Delhi alone. Workers are poorly-protected in an environment where e-waste from PC monitors, PCBs, CDs, motherboards, cables, toner cartridges, light bulbs and tube-lights are burned in the open, releasing lead, mercury toxins into the air. Metals and non-degradable materials such as gold and platinum, aluminium, cadmium, mercury, lead and brominated flame-retardants are retrieved.
The increasing affordability and availability of these products means a gradual penetration into smaller towns which are now recording impressive sales of consumer electronics. The desktop PC and laptop/notebook sales have shown impressive growth in the smaller cities and towns (Rest of India in Fig 1 & 2) in the last five years, accounting to 68% and 75% of the total sales volume in 2008-09, compared to 45% and 25% in 2003-04. India, with around 500 million mobile users, is now the second largest market in the world after China, and in 2008-09 rural India outpaced urban India in mobile growth rate. According to data available with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 48 million rural consumers took a new mobile connection in the first six months of calendar 2009 compared with just 32 million in the cities, thus taking the mobile penetration in rural India to around 17%.
These figures do suggest that the penetration of consumer electronics like computers and mobile has deepened in the country but there is still very large untapped market potential for these products. With the absolute penetration of these equipments still being very low, the coming years will see further increase in sales as new markets are explored and accessed. The root cause of this problem is that it is dominated by the informal sector. And most of the unorganised recyclers work for livelihood, so they cannot be forced by any means to leave this chain. The only way to control this connect informal sector in this field to formal sector and also make them aware of the consequences of the wrong methods of recycling of e-waste. We can see that due to lack of awareness they risk their heath and environment as well. They use strong acids to retrieve precious metals such as gold. Working in poorly-ventilated enclosed areas without masks and technical expertise results in exposure to dangerous and slow-poisoning chemical and also there are no clear guidelines for the unorganized sector to handle e-waste. 2.1 REVIEW OF LITERATURE
2.1.1. SCENARIO IN INDIA
Like China, India is now confronted with the huge problem of e-waste – both locally generated and internationally imported – and also both a lucrative industry and yet also a serious threat to human health and the environment. While there have been some initiatives to set regulations for e-waste management, overall, these hazardous wastes are still typically dismantled and recycled by hand in India in unorganized scrap yard settings that lack safeguards and government guidelines. Large e-waste centres exist in Delhi, Meerut, Ferozabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, with 25,000 recyclers working in Delhi alone. Workers are poorly-protected in an environment where e-waste from PC monitors, PCBs, CDs, motherboards, cables, toner cartridges, light bulbs and tube-lights are burned in the open, releasing lead, mercury toxins into the air. Metals and non-degradable materials such as gold and platinum, aluminium, cadmium, mercury, lead and brominated flame-retardants are retrieved.
The increasing affordability and availability of these products means a gradual penetration into smaller towns which are now recording impressive sales of consumer electronics. The desktop PC and laptop/notebook sales have shown impressive growth in the smaller cities and towns (Rest of India in Fig 1 & 2) in the last five years, accounting to 68% and 75% of the total sales volume in 2008-09, compared to 45% and 25% in 2003-04. India, with around 500 million mobile users, is now the second largest market in the world after China, and in 2008-09 rural India outpaced urban India in mobile growth rate. According to data available with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 48 million rural consumers took a new mobile connection in the first six months of calendar 2009 compared with just 32 million in the cities, thus taking the mobile penetration in rural India to around 17%. These figures do suggest that the penetration of consumer electronics like computers and mobile has deepened in the country but there is still very large untapped market potential for these products.
With the absolute penetration of these equipments still being very low, the coming years will see further increase in sales as new markets are explored and accessed. The root cause of this problem is that it is dominated by the informal sector. And most of the unorganised recyclers work for livelihood, so they cannot be forced by any means to leave this chain. The only way to control this connect informal sector in this field to formal sector and also make them aware of the consequences of the wrong methods of recycling of e-waste. We can see that due to lack of awareness they risk their heath and environment as well. They use strong acids to retrieve precious metals such as gold. Working in poorly-ventilated enclosed areas without masks and technical expertise results in exposure to dangerous and slow-poisoning chemical and also there are no clear guidelines for the unorganized sector to handle e-waste. 2.1.2. IMPACT OF ELECTRONIC WASTE ON HUMAN AND ENVIRONMENT
These electronic and electrical equipment contain valuable materials like copper, gold, silver, platinum palladium, plastics and glass. They also harbour over 50 toxic elements. If released, these can cause long-term, even inter-generational health problems, including neurological and endocrinal disorders, or cancer. The toxics include mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium, chemicals like brominated flame-retardants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Some-wastes, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated copper wires, emit highly poisonous gases like dioxin and furans when burnt. Many of these toxics are now internationally restricted or even banned.
The root cause of this problem is that it is dominated by the informal sector. And most of the unorganised recyclers work for livelihood, and due to lack of awareness, they are risking their health and the environment as well. The valuable fractions are processed to directly reusable components and to secondary raw materials in a variety of refining and conditioning processes. No sophisticated machinery or personal protective equipment is used for the extraction of different materials. All the work is done by bare hands and only with the help of hammers and screwdrivers. Children and women are routinely involved in the operations.
Some of the impacts of the current informal sector recycling are
* Release of toxins into environment
* Loss of natural resources due to low recovery of materials
* Health impact to workers
* Loss of revenue to state
* Disproportionate sharing of profits
Waste components which does not have any resale or reuse value are openly burnt or disposed off in open dumps. Pollution problems associated with such backyard smelting using crude processes are resulting in fugitive emissions and slag containing heavy metals of health concern which are very harmful for lungs and can also cause cancer.
Working in poorly ventilated enclosed areas without masks and technical expertise results in exposure to dangerous and slow poisoning chemicals. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in older capacitors and transformers; and brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards, plastic casings, cables and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cable insulation can release highly toxic dioxins and furans when burned to retrieve copper from the wires.
Occupation exposures from e-waste processing are high, especially in the informal sector, which employs underpaid men, women and children and does not follow any environmental standards even though profits can exceed 150% of the price of e-waste.
Most e-waste “recycling” involve small enterprises that are numerous, widespread, and difficult to regulate. They take advantage of low labour costs due to high unemployment rates, internal migration of poor peasants, and the lack of protest or political mobilization by affected villagers who believe that e-wastes provide the only viable source of income or entry into modern development pathways. They are largely invisible to state scrutiny because they border on the informal economy and are therefore not included in official statistics.
Shakila Umair, researcher at KTH Centre for Sustainable Communications during a “social life cycle assessment” (s-LCA) on the social impacts of informal e-waste recycling shares a real incident.
“Compressor par hathoda maar, tod uss pipe ko, kheench uss wire ko…” (Hammer that compressor. Crush those pipes. Pull the wires out). A gang of thugs at work? Rioting, perhaps? As it happens, it’s neither. This is electronic waste disposal, Indian style. Outside a dirty little shop in east Delhi’s Kanti Nagar, three young workers are wreaking havoc on a hapless refrigerator. The noise is deafening and concerns over pollution of any sort, non-existent. Quiz the workers about CFC and they hear Pepsi. Peer inside and you see a filthy table where a man in a torn vest and grimy trousers is all set to attack a computer with a screwdriver and hammer “It’s no big deal,” laughs Shakeel, the owner of this unit, resting a hand on a precarious mound of computer monitors behind him.
“With a screwdriver, even you can become a dismantler in just two hours.” This little locality in the Seelampur area is one of Delhi’s e-waste disposal hubs. In the 500-odd dingy, claustrophobic units here, workers dismantle computer monitors, refrigerators, air-conditioners and what have you — all by hand. Shakeel is only one of some 25,000 junk dealers and salvagers operating out of unorganised scrap yards in Delhi. And there are many more like him at scrap yards across most cities in India — about 800,000 tonnes of e-waste is generated in the country every year and most of it finds its way to poor urban localities like Seelampur. 2.1.3. OVERVIEW OF LAWS REGULATING E-WASTE
On 1 May 2012 the new e-waste rules notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF 2011), Government of India came into force. They mandate requirements for e-waste disposal by all consumers, producers, importers and traders of electrical and electronic equipment (except those in the micro- and small-scale sector) in India. By doing so, India became one of the few select developing countries, which have such a law in place. The rules aim to manage over 8 lakh tonnes (Central Pollution Control Board [CPCB], 2012) of toxic but very lucrative e-waste currently generated in the country. This is expected to double in the coming decade. Considering that over 95% of the e-waste is currently recycled in small, informal, diverse and distributed operations (almost always with detrimental impacts on human health and the environment), forcing this economy to shift to a safer and more accountable system is in itself a daunting task. The rules were notified eight years after a report (Toxics Link 2003) highlighted the issue.
They are path-breaking in many ways, but severely deficient in others. They incorporate progressive principles like extended producer responsibility (EPR) and removal of hazardous substances (RoHS), which envision waste not as an isolated municipal problem but as part of a product’s life cycle. However they also shy away from some key issues – incorporating the informal sector, e-waste imports, disposal of mercury containing lamps, setting collection targets, etc. Even in the short time since they have been in force, there have been implementation slippages. The rules notified in May 2011, provided a window of one year to enable the stakeholders to prepare. However, despite the grace period, little has been done, especially by the main stakeholder – the producer. In fact a new guideline currently being prepared by the MoEF to help interpret the Rules, already seems like an attempt to dilute the responsibility of industry in this matter (CPCB 2012). The new e-waste rules notified by the government are an important step forward.
However, loopholes which allow producers to evade their responsibility and the informal sector to evade environmental and health controls need to be addressed. It is also important to create mass awareness and make it easier for the consumer to dispose e-waste. Policy should encourage cooperation rather than competition between those responsible for disposing e-waste. 3.1RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1.1 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The object of the study was to Estimate e-waste quantity, identify the existing e-waste treatmen8 figure out the problems faced by the government, recyclers in informal sector, its adverse impact on human and environment and thus suggest the solutions and strategies which have a more practical approach.
3.1.2 RESEARCH METHOD
Sample, Source of Data Collection & Statistical Tool
* The research is based on primary and secondary data collected from a sample of Twenty (20) people from the Pune city.
* Data was collected through a questionnaire and in depth interviews of the sample belonging to 2L-12L+ Income Group and 15-45+Age Group.
* Secondary data in the form of articles published in books, journals,
magazines, research papers, newspapers and reports was also be referred.
Statistical tools applied is Pie Chart
4.1.1 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
126.96.36.199 PIE CHARTS AND FINDINGS
Figure 1 Figure 2
Figure 3 Figure 4
188.8.131.52DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
FIGURE 1: It talked about knowledge of laws relating to Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
80% said that they were not aware of the laws relating to Electronic Waste (E-Waste) 20% said that they were aware of the laws relating to Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
FIGURE 2: It talked about Gadget’s use after irreparable damage. 50% said that they gave their Gadget’s to Kabadiwala’s.
20% said that they gave their Gadget’s to Electronic Stores. 20% said that they dumped their Gadget’s in Trash.
10% said that they gave their to E-Waste, Recycle Bins.
FIGURE 3: It talked about Purchase of New Gadgets while Old are still functioning. 50% said that they Often bought.
20% said that they Sometimes bought.
25% said that they Rarely bought.
5% said that they Never bought.
FIGURE 3: It talked about Purchase of New Gadgets while Old are still functioning. 50% said that they Often bought.
20% said that they bought it sometimes
25% said that they Rarely bought.
5% said that they Never bought
FIGURE 4: It talked about Purchase of Second hand Gadgets
15% said that they Often bought.
35% said that they bought it sometimes
45% said that they Rarely bought.
5% said that they Never bought
* These answers were provided by 20 different people, who had their own opinions and views regarding the topic.
* Some of the people were highly aware , enthusiastic and worried about E-waste, while others knew nothing.
* Almost everyone was unaware of any laws relating to Electronic Waste. (E-Waste)
The IT industry has been an important driver in the growth of Indian economy and will continue to be a very significant player. The Indian economy is expected to be one of the fastest growing economies of the world. The sheer size of the market and large consumer base is expected to boost consumption patterns and result in generation of huge quantities of waste. While this throws up a serious new challenge it also brings in new set of opportunities not only to manage this waste but also for innovation of cleaner and more sustainable products. Waste minimization is a cardinal principle to be researched, experimented and adopted for sustainability. These are possibilities not only for a solution to local problems, but are also applicable to global issues on E-waste. New revenue models in the business of E-waste appear as interesting possibilities in the Indian context and could perhaps be used as one of the many working solutions.
The ideal mix of skilled labour from the informal sector coupled with appropriate technology, perhaps can provide solutions for sustainable E-waste practices. The urgency for a larger policy and an enabling regulation to manage this waste are important instruments, which would provide important drivers for a safe and sustainable E-waste management practice. The concept of Extended Producer Responsibility is the most appropriate framework to be discussed and slowly practiced. However, the challenge lies in the implementation of this framework and the regulatory process. The issues of governance have always been a limiting factor in effective implementation of rules and it would be utmost importance to embed necessary drivers for accountability, transparency and sustainability into any regulation or policies on waste.
6.1.1.WASTE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
The best option for dealing with E wastes is to reduce the volume. Designers should ensure that the product is built for re-use, repair and/or upgradeability. Stress should be laid on use of less toxic, easily recoverable and recyclable materials which can be taken back for refurbishment, remanufacturing, disassembly and reuse. Recycling and reuse of material are the next level of potential options to reduce e-waste.
Recovery of metals, plastic, glass and other materials reduces the magnitude of e-waste. These options have a potential to conserve the energy and keep the environment free of toxic material that would otherwise have been released.
It is high time the manufactures, consumers, regulators, municipal authorities, state governments, and policy makers take up the matter seriously so that the different critical depicted in Figure 1 are addressed in an integrated manner. It is the need of the hour to have an “e waste-policy” and national regulatory frame work for promotion of such activities. An e Waste Policy is best created by those who understand the issues. So it is best for industry to initiate policy formation collectively, but with user involvement. Sustainability of e-waste management systems has to be ensured by improving the effectiveness of collection and recycling systems (e.g., public–private-partnerships in setting up buy-back or drop-off centres) and by designing-in additional funding e.g., advance recycling fees.
6.1.2. E-WASTE POLICY AND REGULATION
The Policy shall address all issues ranging from production and trade to final disposal, including technology transfers for the recycling of electronic waste. Clear regulatory instruments, adequate to control both legal and illegal exports and imports of e-wastes and ensuring their environmentally sound management should be in place. There is also a need to address the loop holes in the prevailing legal frame work to ensure that e – wastes from developed countries are reaching the country for disposal. The Port and the Custom authorities need to monitor these aspects. The regulations should prohibit the disposal of e-wastes in municipal landfills and encourage owners and generators of e-wastes to properly recycle the wastes.
Manufactures of products must be made financially, physically and legally responsible for their products. Policies and regulations that cover Design for Environment (DfE) and better management of restricted substances may be implemented through measures such as
• specific product take-back obligations for industry
• financial responsibility for actions and schemes
• greater attention to the role of new product design
• material and/or substance bans including stringent restrictions on certain substances • greater scrutiny of cross-border movements of electrical and electronic products and e-waste • Increasing public awareness by labelling products as ‘environmental hazard’ A complete national level inventory, covering all the cities and all the sectors must be initiated. A public-private participatory forum (E Waste Agency) of decision making and problem resolution in E-waste management must be developed. This could be a Working Group comprising Regulatory Agencies, NGOs, Industry Associations, experts etc. to keep pace with the temporal and spatial changes in structure and content of E-waste. This Working Group can be the feedback providing mechanism to the Government that will periodically review the existing rules, plans and strategies for E-waste management.
Mandatory labelling of all computer monitors, television sets and other household/industrial electronic devices may be implemented for declaration of hazardous material contents with a view to identifying environmental hazards and ensuring proper material management and e-waste disposal.The efforts to improve the situation through regulations, though an important step; are usually only modestly effective because of the lack of enforcement. While there has been some progress made in this direction with the support of agencies such as GTZ, enforcement of regulations is often weak due to lack of resources and underdeveloped legal systems. Penalties for non-compliance and targets for collection or recycling are often used to ensure compliance.
6.1.3. EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post consumer stage of the product’s life cycle, including its final disposal. In principle, all the actors along the product chain share responsibility for the lifecycle environmental impacts of the whole product system. The greater the ability of the actor to influence the environmental impacts of the product system, the greater the share of responsibility for addressing those impacts should be. These actors are the consumers, the suppliers, and the product manufacturers.
Consumers can affect the environmental impacts of products in a number of ways: via purchase choices (choosing environmentally friendly products), via maintenance and the environmentally conscious operation of products, and via careful disposal (e.g., separated disposal of appliances for recycling).
Suppliers may have a significant influence by providing manufacturers with environmentally friendly materials and components.
Manufacturers can reduce the life-cycle environmental impacts of their products through their influence on product design, material choices, manufacturing processes, product delivery, and product system support The system design needs to be such that there are checks and balances, especially to prevent free riders.
The goals of the product designer could include reducing toxicity, reducing energy use, streamlining product weight and materials, identifying opportunities for easier reuse, and more. Manufacturers have to improve the design by:
(i) the substitution of hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and certain brominated flame retardants; (ii) measures to facilitate identification and re-use of components and materials, particularly plastics; and (iii) measures to promote the use of recycled plastics in new products.
Manufacturers should give incentives to their customers for product return through a “buy back approach” whereby old electronic goods are collected and a discount could be given on new products purchased by the consumer. All vendors of electronic devices shall provide take-back and management services for their products at the end of life of those products. The old electronic product should then be sent back to be carefully dismantled for its parts to be either recycled or re-used, either in a separate recycling division at the manufacturing unit or in a common facility.
Collection systems are to be established so that e-waste is collected from the right places ensuring that this directly comes to the recycling unit. Collection can be accomplished through collection centres. Each electronic equipment manufacturer shall work cooperatively with collection centres to ensure implementation of a practical and feasible financing system.
Collection Centres may only ship wastes to dismantlers and recyclers that are having authorization for handling, processing, refurbishment, and recycling meeting environmentally sound management guidelines.
6.1.4. E-WASTE RECYCLING
Many discarded machines contain usable parts which could be salvaged and combined with other used equipment to create a working unit. It is labour intensive to remove, inspect and test components and then reassemble them into complete working machines. Institutional infrastructures, including e-waste collection, transportation, treatment, storage, recovery and disposal, need to be established, at national and/or regional levels for the environmentally sound management of e-wastes. These facilities should be approved by the regulatory authorities and if required provided with appropriate incentives. Establishment of e-waste collection, exchange and recycling centres should be encouraged in partnership with governments, NGOs and manufacturers.
Environmentally sound recycling of e-waste requires sophisticated technology and processes, which are not only very expensive, but also need specific skills and training for the operation.
Proper recycling of complex materials requires the expertise to recognize or determine the presence of hazardous or potentially hazardous constituents as well as desirable constituents (i.e. those with recoverable value), and then be able to apply the company’s capabilities and process systems to properly recycle both of these streams. Appropriate air pollution control devices for the fugitive and point source emissions are required. Guidelines are to be developed for environmentally sound recycling of E Wastes. Private Sector are coming forward to invest in the e-waste projects once they are sure of the returns.
6.1.5. CAPACITY BUILDING, TRAINING AND AWARENESS PROGRAMMES
The future of e-waste management depends not only on the effectiveness of local government, the operator of recycling services, but also on the attitude of citizens, and on the key role of manufactures and bulk consumers to shape and develop community participation. Lack of civic sense and awareness among city residents will be a major hurdle to keep e-waste out of municipal waste stream. Collaborative campaigns are required to sensitise the users and consumers should pay for recycling of electronic goods.
Consumers are to be informed of their role in the system through a labelling requirement for items. Consumers to be educated to buy only necessary products that utilize some of the emerging technologies (i.e. lead-free, halogen-free, recycled plastics and from manufacturers or retailers that will `take-back’ their product) to be identified through eco-labelling.
Awareness raising programmes and activities on issues related to the environmentally sound management (ESM), health and safety aspects of e-wastes in order to encourage better management practices should be implemented for different target groups. Technical guidelines for the ESM of e-wastes should be developed as soon as possible.
7.1LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE SCOPE
The rules stipulate that the producer will have to take authorisation from all the 27 state pollution control establishments. All down-the-chain actors, namely, collection centres, dismantlers and recyclers, also need separate authorisation from the state boards. It could be a case of over-regulation, where all that was needed was a central registry, at least for producers, as exists elsewhere, while recyclers and others could be authorised at the state level. 184.108.40.206TARGETS:
Recycling targets are essential for monitoring progress and improving compliance. In Europe targets have been set for per capita e-waste collection. However in India, the industry has staunchly resisted the setting of targets citing a lack of baseline data. While targets must be set up in a practical manner, the role of targets is crucial and must be incorporated. 220.127.116.11LEAKAGES BACK TO THE INFORMAL SECTOR:
There are other several ways in which e-waste can “leak” back to the informal sector. Proposed unmanned collection bins, mobile collection centres, bulk auctions by large consumers, grey market products, illegal imports, or simply higher prices offered by them to “suck” the waste back into their hands are a few. These loopholes need to be constantly identified and closed. 18.104.22.168REGULATION AND MONITORING:
Regulation remains the weak point in all environmental legislation in the country. In this case, by incorporating EPR, an attempt has been made to share the responsibility of implementation with the private sector. However strict monitoring of progress and implementation of the rules will remain crucial to how the system develops. 22.214.171.124OTHER ISSUES:
The role of municipalities needs to be enunciated better. Since each urban area needs collection bins, etc, this cannot be done without their involvement. Similarly civil society organisations, NGOs, waste-picker cooperatives, etc, need to be made aware of the rules. Also with growing rural computerisation and with the penetration of computers, mobiles and televisions in the country, a link needs to be made with all such programmes and e-waste disposal. Finally, the issue of historic waste and “free riders” in the system have not been tackled in the rules. Imports are the result of pressures from high e-waste generation countries (in Europe, the United States, Japan) to export their e-waste to developing countries.
Since the cost of waste disposal and treatment there is high, it has provided an incentive to export to countries like India, China and to Africa with lower labour costs and weak environmental standards. A computer, for example, which could cost up to $20 to recycle in the US, is sold for $15 to Indian traders, marking an inflow of over $35. By estimates, India imports more than 50,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, and traders make the most profit. Toxics Link tracked over 40 bills of entry of materials wrongly marked “mixed metal scrap”, to illegal e-waste imports. Misdeclaring e-waste, fudging its origins (from say west Asia rather than Europe or the US) to bypass international law (Basel Convention) and auctioning the items in India to the informal sector has been the practice followed. E-waste also comes in as second-hand goods or into export promotion zones (EPZ). Precious little has been done to prevent these flows. While the earlier drafts of the rules proposed a ban on e-waste imports, for some inexplicable reason this was removed. On the contrary in 2011, licences were issued to allow the import of 8,000 tonnes of e-waste by one recycler. Such mixed policy signals also threaten to convert India into an e-waste dumping site. 126.96.36.199A FINAL CHALLENGE:
A final challenge is to make future devices like computers and mobiles “cleaner” such that they do not contain toxic materials in the first place, along with incentives for encouraging designs that allow for longevity and lead to a reduction of waste generation. The rules mandate this, and it needs to be monitored strictly. There are already RoHS rules in place in the European Union, which allow market access only to those devices that meet these standards. The question of influencing design is more complicated and less certain, even though this is one of the objectives of EPR
7.1.2 FUTURE SCOPE
188.8.131.52 UPSTREAM INNOVATION AND SOLUTIONS:
Application of a Lifecycle approach to environmental management is recognized as the most effective tool for sustainable products. A product can be evaluated for each of the stages of its life and can be optimized for eco efficiency. The Lifecycle approach and design for environment would permit bridging the technological divide between production and recycling. Looking at the complete lifecycle helps in reducing waste at every stage of the product, reducing toxics load on the environment and enhancing its recycling potential. The electronic industry needs to incorporate the principles of Design for Environment (DfE) in attempting to address the optimization of mass of the product, energy usage and recycling potential. The essential requirement for the disposal to be conceived in tandem at product design stage would ensure its higher recycling potential. This also helps bridge the technology gap between manufacturing and disposal, improving the recycling potential of the product and hence optimizing resource utilization.
DfE also addresses the issue of the mass of the products and producers constantly strive to reduce the size while enhancing product efficiency. Good examples of such concepts in design are the new generation laptops, radios and mobile phones which result in reducing the total material consumed in the production process also minimization of waste generation at the end of life of the product. Material substitution or use of less toxic materials in the manufacturing process also brings down the environmental footprint of the product. The European regulation -ROHS (Restriction On use of Hazardous Substances)- is one regulatory instrument which has been an important driver in reducing toxics in electronic products. This regulation aims at gradually reducing the use of Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Hexavalent chromium, PBB and PBDE. It is important to learn from the European experience and incorporate the principles of ROHS to the Indian context with the objective of reducing the use of toxic substances in electronic products. Material substitution with less toxic substances helps in reducing environmental load while improving recycling potential, thus also reducing the recycling costs. 184.108.40.206 DOWNSTREAM SOLUTIONS:
Down stream solution would essentially attempt to address technological issues of recycling, a frame work of responsibility of stakeholders and setting up of a reverse supply chain process. Responsibility of the producer to the end-of-life management brings in more commitment and responsibility on part of producers for cleaner materials and production processes. 220.127.116.11 REVERSE SUPPLY CHAIN:
In the Indian context setting up of a robust and viable reverse supply chain for the E-waste stream is currently the biggest challenge. The existing informal sector with very low investment in infrastructure and ability for deep penetration provides a skeletal reverse supply chain process in India. The sheer expanse and size of the country demands and justifies a well-organized and regulated system to ensure that the material flows to the best technology centers for disposal. Closing the loop for the reverse supply chain and also shortening its length is of critical importance. It is also critical for linkages to be formed between the formal and informal sector in developing the reverse supply chain process.
The strength of the informal sector with its capacity of deep penetration must be upgraded, managed and effectively utilized to build a sound system. Previous experiences do suggest that competition between the informal and formal sectors have been responsible for weakening the system leading to diversion of materials in two separate channels. Thus it is essential to have an inclusive system, which will not only encourage sound recycling technology in the formal recycling facilities but will also take advantage of the existing strengths of the informal recycling sector. Formal recycling facilities would only be viable if material supply is assured through an established system of reverse supply chain. EPR would ensure material availability for recycling through manufacturers’ vast networks. 18.104.22.168 RECYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE:
E-waste is gradually being viewed as an important resource due to the presence of some precious and rare metals. Many entrepreneurs view this as a lucrative business opportunity and have set up facilities with differential capacities to handle this waste. As per current information in last four years more than ten recycling facilities in the organized sector have emerged in the country, engaged in dismantling and segregation of this complex waste. These recycling facilities have been authorized by the respective Pollution Control Boards to undertake specific processes based on their capacities. Availability of adequate number of sound recycling infrastructure units across the country will be critically important for safe management of E-waste. The country, currently, has only one integrated facility with an annual capacity of around 30000 tones of waste.
Most units are only engaging in pre-processing of this waste and then exporting some of the valuable E-waste abroad for material recovery. These recycling facilities are in various stages of infancy and need to grow, evolve and establish best practices and standards in order to achieve sustainable E-waste management. The existing recycling facilities also suffer from a serious lack of credibility making them less attractive destination in channelizing waste from the multi-national corporations. They are currently handling only a small fraction of the total waste generated in the country as they compete with the informal sector in accessing and treatment of waste. The current situation of low material availability in the formal sector is expected to change as these E-waste companies build credible reputation and brand value aided by suitable regulation and enhanced public awareness. 22.214.171.124 RESOURCE RECOVERY:
The production process of electrical and electronic products consume large volumes of materials some of them precious and many rare. Excessive mining and consumption of some of these elements leads to faster depletion of natural resources, also increasing the environmental burden. Unsustainable production consumption processes could seriously impact the reserves, hence the need to recycle these materials and plough them back into the supply chain process. Improving the recycling potential of these products coupled with technology up-gradation for recycling will enhance the material recovery and also result in conservation of energy. 126.96.36.199 REFURBISHMENT AND REUSE:
Another opportunity and tool for waste minimization in India would be reuse and refurbishment. IT products are rendered surplus and waste as they become obsolete. These products though obsolete and old for a particular consumer base have the potential of being used by another set of consumers. The markets for such products have always existed in India in semi-urban settings. These however, are quickly seeping into rural areas providing a significant market size for these second-hand products. Refurbishment and reuse need to be thought through as a market strategy and implemented with due care so that the conflict with trade of new products is minimized while achieving the goal of sustainability and waste minimization. 188.8.131.52 LEGAL FRAMEWORK:
Currently E-waste in India is covered under the Hazardous Waste. The existing Hazardous Waste Rules was primarily drawn up to address issues of waste generated in industrial processes and is inadequate to cover issues specific to E-waste. The Government, after prolonged deliberation, issued a Guideline for safe management of E-waste in the country. The guideline is a voluntary instrument and largely attempts to address the technological gap. While the guideline was a welcome step, it did not provide the requisite drivers for changing the ground situation. The voluntary nature of the guideline was a limiting factor as it failed to provide a level playing field to brands and trigger significant actions. Stakeholders’ discussions suggested that a mandatory regulation specific to E-waste would be the most desirable way forward. A core group comprising of Toxics Link, Green Peace, Manufacturers Association Of Information Technology and GTZ took the lead and drew up draft Rules. These Rules broadly encompass the framework of Extended Producer’s Responsibility and Restriction on use of Hazardous Substances.
The draft Rules have since been submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests who have committed to finalizing the rules expeditiously. Clearly, the government wants that to change. In May 2011, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) announced the E-waste Rules, 2011, which came into effect a year later. For the first time, the concept of extended producer responsibility has come into force, which means manufacturers of electronic goods are now responsible for the entire life cycle of their products, including the disposal of their ‘end-of-life’ e-waste. It’s not just manufacturers — bulk users such as the government and IT companies also have to adhere to safe e-waste disposal. All of which could translate into a huge opportunity for companies in the recycling and waste disposal business. Incumbents are already gearing up for increased business. Nitin Gupta, CEO of Noida-based e-waste recycling company Attero says: “The inflection point in any clean tech or environment business comes with regulations and then business jumps, and this new regulation is expected to be the inflection point for e-waste.” Ravi Aggarwal, founder of NGO Toxic Links says:
“With rudimentary technology, the informal sector’s recovery rate is 60%. With modern methods, you can go to 99%,” BK Soni, chairman of Mumbai-based Eco Recycling, one of the oldest players in the business says: “There has been a multifold rise in the number of dismantlers and recyclers,” Organised e-waste disposal does away with all these harmful practices. Units in the organised sector use advanced dismantling and processing facilities with negative air pressure, suction pumps for hazardous chemicals, and full safety equipment for workers. Safety is only one of the advantages.
There is also a higher rate of recovery in organised waste disposal — gold from computers; silver, gold and palladium from mobile phones; and copper from batteries. While organised units require investment in the range of Rs 5 Crore to Rs 40 Crore for mechanical dust collectors, cutters, shredders and smelting furnaces, high costs have not deterred entrepreneurs from trying their luck in the e-waste business. Since May 2011, some 90 companies have applied for recycling licences and several more have asked for permission to set up dismantling and collection centres. As things stand, though, it looks like it may be a long while before e-waste really transforms into wealth.
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