Indian and global E-waste scenario
Impacts of e-waste
Electronics industry is
the world's largest and
and Electronic waste or
e-waste is one of the
E-waste comprises of a multitude of components,
rapidly growing problems
of the containing toxic substances that can have an
adverse impact on human health and the
environment if not handled properly.
In India, e-waste management assumes greater
significance not only due to the generation of its own
e-waste but also because of the dumping of e-waste
There is no generally accepted definition of e-waste.
A number of countries have come out with their own
definitions, interpretation and usage of
term “Ewaste/WEEE”. The most widely accepted definition and
description of WEEE/ E-waste is as per the European
Union directive. For the purposes of this Directive, following
definitions are applied:
1. „Electrical and electronic equipment‟ or „EEE‟
means equipment which is dependent on electric currents or
electromagnetic fields in order to work properly and equipment
2. „Waste electrical and electronic equipment‟ or
„WEEE‟ means electrical or electronic equipment which is waste
within the meaning of Article 1(a) of Directive 75/442/ EEC,
including all components, subassemblies and consumables
which are part of the product at the time of discarding.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) consists
of all waste from electronic and electrical appliances which
have reached their end- of- life period or are no longer fit for
their original intended use and are destined for recovery,
recycling or disposal. It includes computer and its accessories
i.e. monitors, printers, keyboards, central processing units;
Main sources of E-waste.
Magnitude of the problem.
Environmental and health hazards.
Current disposal and recycling operations.
Policy level initiatives: India & The world.
Organizations working on this issue.
Recommendations for action.
Composition of the E-waste is very diverse and complex. E-waste contains
more than 1,000 substances, which can be classified as hazardous and
non hazardous substances. The electrical and electronic equipment can be
broadly categorized into following categories (EU 2002):
1. Large household appliances (refrigerator, freezer, washing machine,
cooking appliances, etc.)
2. Small household appliances (vacuum cleaners, watches, grinders, etc.)
3. IT and telecommunication equipment (PCs, printers, telephones, etc.)
4. Consumer equipment (TV, radio, video camera, amplifiers, etc.)
5. Lighting equipment (CFL, high intensity sodium lamp, etc.)
6. Electrical and electronic tools (drills, saws, sewing machine, etc.)
7. Toys, leisure, and sport equipment (computer/ video games, electric
8. Medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected
products, radiotherapy equipment, cardiology, dialysis, nuclear medicine,
Composition of E-wastes
The main materials found in electric and electronic
waste are ferrous material (38%), non-ferrous
material (28%), plastic (19%), glass (4%), other
including wood, rubber, ceramic, etc. (11%).
Each of these e-waste items has been classified with
respect to 25 common components found in them =>
„Building Blocks‟ => readily „identifiable‟ and
„removable.‟ These components are : Metal
LCD (liquid crystal display)
Brominated flamed retardant
External electric cables
Refractory ceramic fibers
Electrolyte capacitors (over
L/D 25 mm).
Sources of e-waste
Flow of e-waste across different sectors
Magnitude of the
With respect to indian scenario…
Electronics industry has emerged as the fastest growing
segment in India in terms of both production and exports.
IT revolution of early 90‟s has intensified the E-Waste problem.
65 Cities in India generate > 60% of total E-waste in India.
10 states generate > 70% of total E-waste.
According to the Comptroller and Auditor- General‟s (CAG)
report, over 7.2 MT of industrial hazardous waste, 4 lakh tons of
electronic waste, 1.5 MT of plastic waste, 1.7 MT of medical
waste, 48 MT of municipal waste are generated in the country
annually. (Govt of India RS art)
At recycling units in New Delhi, 70% of the total electronic waste
collected was actually exported or dumped by developed
countries (Toxic Link,2004)
By 2020, E-waste from old computers in India will jumped by
Top 10 E-waste
producing states in
Top 10 E-waste
producing cities in
From the above it is noted that Karnataka stands 7th in the list among the E-Waste
Bangalore is 3rd in generation of E-Waste among major cities.
Northern India is not a leading generator, it happens to be the leading processing
Centre of e-waste in the country.
According to Manufacturer‟s association for information technology (MAIT) report,
India in 2007 generated 3,80,000 tones of e-waste from discarded computers,
televisions and mobile phones and is projected to grow to more than 8,00,000 tons by
tragedy at Mayapuri in
Delhi in which one
person lost his life and
admitted to hospital
served as a wakeup
call drawing attention to
the mounting quantity
of hazardous waste
including e-waste in the
country while revealing
systemic problems on
the issue of waste
in the global context…
As the fastest growing component of municipal waste across
the world, it is estimated that more than 50 MT of e-waste is
generated globally every year. In other words, these would fill
enough containers on a train to go round the world once.
China already produces about 2.3 million tons of e-waste
domestically, second only to the U.S. with about three million
tonnes. The EU and the U.S. would account for maximum ewaste generation during this current decade.
In Europe, e-waste contributes up to 6 million tons of solid
waste per annum.
Data from a single-day recycling collection event revealed 15
The demand for metals from rapidly growing economies, especially India,
China and Brazil has been providing an impetus to the global demand for
metals. The recycled metal market has been predicted to grow at an
average annual growth rate of 8.1 per cent in 2010 and that of recycled
plastics at the rate of 10.2 per cent.
Easier and cheaper for these countries to ship e-wastes to the developing
countries where access to and recycling of such discarded electronic
goods make a good economic option. For both sides, it is profitable or a
win-win situation. The only difference being that the rich country is
dumping toxic waste on the poorer country.
This can be further elaborated by giving an example of dismantling of
ships, which involves the process by which end-of-life ships are converted
into steel and other recyclable items, and the remainder is then disposed
of. These operations are performed mainly in South Asia, with India,
Bangladesh and Pakistan currently occupying 70-80 per cent of the
market. The industry offers a valuable end of-life solution to old ships
Electronic wastes can cause
damage due to the use of toxic
materialsreleased on burning E-Wastes such as
wiring, plastic memory chipboards etc. contains
highly toxic dioxins and furans
Land filling of e wastes can lead to the leaching of
toxic material into the ground water.
If cathode ray tube (CRT or the TV screen) is
crushed and burned, it emits highly toxic fumes and
lead into the environment.
Used primarily in soldering of Extremely harmful to the human
circuit boards and other device body; damages both the central
systems; can cause seizures,
pressure, damage to the
kidneys and liver; adversely
affects child development
Forms significant portions of
electrical connectors and
Long term exposure can be
carcinogenic, especially for the
lungs. Extreme exposure can
lead to a potentially fatal
condition known as Acute
some integrated Arsenic is a notoriously potent
poison; causes severe damage
to the digestive tract
Can be found to a degree in Attacks the central nervous and
batteries and circuit boards
endocrine systems; harmful to
(PBDEs), are among the list of
chemical substances that are classified
as persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
POPs are chemicals that have three main characteristics: 1)
they are stable compounds, enabling them to persist in the
environment; 2) they are lipid (fat) soluble, which combined with
their stability, enables them to accumulate up the food chain; 3)
they have the ability to act as endocrine (hormone) disruptors.
dibenzofurans (PCDFs) are other
types of POPs.
Plastics made from polyvinyl chloride
(26% of the plastic found in e-waste by
volume), once processed through
uncontrolled open burning, can
Dioxins and furans can enter the body via inhalation, ingestion
and skin absorption. Exposure to PCDD/Fs at high levels can lead
to chloracne (severe skin disease), darkening of the skin, and
altered liver function. Long-term exposure can lead to damage of
the immune, nervous and endocrine systems and impaired
The estimated daily intake of PCDD/Fs via soil/dust ingestion
and dermal exposure, according to this study, was two times
higher for people who are exposed to e-waste recycling facilities
in Taizhou (China) (2.3 and 0.363 pg/kg/day for children and
adults, respectively), compared to people who are exposed to
The primitive practices of burning Ewastes not only create an enormous
amount of environmental pollution,
but also disseminate genotoxic
agents that threaten the health of
current and are agents that damage
Genotoxinsfuture generations livingthe genetic material in cells.
in the local environment.
Are found to be mutagenic or carcinogenic, i.e.. are capable of
causing genetic mutations or the development of cancer. The
genotoxins associated with e-waste include: metals such as
chromium, beryllium, and cadmium; chlorinated dioxins and furans
formed from the burning of plastics; and, flame retardants such as
polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
These can lead to a number of pathologies including genetic
Current disposal and
In India, primarily two types of disposal options based on the
in practice. These are Landfilling and
Both have obvious disadvantages.
Reusing and recycling are the other ways of dealing with ewastes. They have been preferable because they increase the
lifespan of the products and therefore imply less waste over time.
The two main hubs where e-waste is re-cycled in the country are
Delhi and Mumbai. The other two major hubs are Hyderabad and
Bangalore which have been the centers of the electronics and
information technology industry
Delhi:70 percent of electronic waste collected at recycling units
in New Delhi was actually exported or dumped by the developed
countries. Due to lack of any facility for proper storage and
disposal of such waste, mishaps like the ones that occurred in
Bengaluru: In Bengaluru, the Silicon capital of India, e-waste
recycling is a multi-crore market where e-waste is received in
Gowripalya and Nayandahalli. There are a few recycling centres
in Karnataka like e- Wardd, e- Parisara, K.G. Nandini Recyclers,
Ash Recyclers, New Port Computer Services India Pvt. Ltd.
Recyclers and E-R3 Solutions Pvt. Ltd. in the formal sector.
There are two E-waste dismantling facilities in formal sector in
India. These facilities are M/s. Trishiraya Recycling facilities,
Chennai and M/s E-Parisara, Bangalore.
Availability of take back service
Two brands stand out as having the best take back practice in
India, HCL and WIPRO. Other brands that do relatively well are
Nokia, Acer, Motorola and LGE
Policy level initiatives
India & the world
In view of the ill-effects of hazardous wastes to both
environment and health, several countries exhorted the need
for a global agreement to address the problems and challenges
posed by hazardous waste.
The Basel Convention:
The Basel Convention on the Control of Trans boundary
Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most
comprehensive global environmental agreement on hazardous
and other wastes. It was signed by 173 countries on 22 March
1989 and entered into force on 5 May 1992.
3 agenda :
1. Setting up a framework for controlling the „trans boundary‟
movement of hazardous wastes, that is, the movement of
hazardous wastes across international frontiers;
2. Developing the criteria for „environmentally sound
Policy level initiatives in India:
1. The Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Amendment Rules,
2003 Under Schedule 3, E-waste is be defined as “Waste Electrical
and Electronic Equipment including all components, sub-assemblies
and their fractions except batteries falling under these rules”. The
definition provided here is similar to that of Basal Convention. E-waste is
only briefly included in the rules with no detail description.
2. Guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management of E-waste, 2008. This
guideline was a Government of India initiative and was approved by
Ministry of Environment and Forest and Central Pollution Control
Board. It classified the E-waste according to its various components
and compositions and mainly emphasizes on the management and
treatment practices of E-waste. The guideline incorporated concepts such
as “Extended Producer Responsibility”.
3. The e-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. The very recent
initiative and the only attempt in India meant solely for addressing the
issues related to E-waste. These rules came into practice from 1st May,
2012. According to which, „electrical and electronic equipment‟ means
equipment which is dependent on electric currents or electro-magnetic
fields to be fully functional and „e-waste‟ means waste electrical and
electronic equipment, whole or in part or rejects from their manufacturing
Problems associated with the e-waste management its scientific and environment friendly disposal
Management and disposal of e-waste has become a
serious problem among states nationwide.
The problem of electronic waste (e-waste) is growing
at an unsustainable rate.
E-waste is now the fastest growing, and most toxic,
component of municipal garbage.
Local governments are facing huge costs to handle
e-waste, and even greater costs if they do not
capture this toxic stream and handle it in an
Need for a e-waste policy and legislation.
Encourage and facilitate organized
Providing subsidies for recycling and disposal
Collect fee from manufacturers/consumers for the
disposal of toxic material.
Incentive schemes for garbage collectors and
general public for collecting and handling over ewaste.
Awareness programs on e-waste for school children
and general public.
Transparency and accountability to the public
Handling. Large amounts of e-waste poses risks of
toxic contamination to workers and surrounding
communities if conducted carelessly.
Thus, the most basic criterion that employees and
citizens should rightfully expect from any recycling
operation is that it be open to public inspection.
General compliance with occupational health and
safety standards - Observance of health and safety
standards in the workplace is important for protecting
workers from exposure to toxics whilst handling ewaste.
Well-trained workers, who are fully protected by the
law to seek advice and take action to protect their
health and the environment without fear of reprisal
from their employer, are the most effective
It is important that we create an effective national
management of e-waste including wide public
awareness and education.
Conduct detailed inventories of e-waste.
Initiate pilot schemes on collection and sorting of ewastes , including take back schemes and schemes
for repair refurbishment and recycling.
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Sushant B. Wath, P. S. Dutt , T. Chakrabarti. E-waste scenario
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Research unit (larrdis) Rajya Sabha secretariat, New Delhi. EWaste in India. June, 2011: 1-122.
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Study on the possible effects on Human Health and the
Environment in Asia and the Pacific of the trade of products