ELECTRONIC WASTE Electronic waste, " e-waste " or "Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment" (" WEEE ") is a waste consisting of any broken or unwanted electrical or electronic appliance. It is a point of concern considering that many components of such equipment are considered toxic and are not biodegradable .
India generates close to 500,000 tons e-waste p.a. Expected to touch a million ton by 2011
Broad break up appears as under: Mumbai : 50,000 tons Delhi : 35,000 Bangalore : 30,000 Chennai : 25,000 Kolkata : 19,000 Ahmedabad : 14,000 Hyderabad : 13,000 Pune : 10,000 Indore : 8,000 WASTE PILING UP
IT & Telecom Equipments
Large Household Appliances
Small Household Appliances
Consumer & Lighting Equipments
Electrical & Electronic Tools
Toys, Leisure & Sports Equipment
Monitoring & Control Instruments
SOURCES OF WEEE
Over 400 million current mobile users expected to increase to 500 million by 2010 end
At present, India has about 40 million computers which are expected to grow to 80 million computers by end 2010
Over 14 million old PCs ready for disposal in India
What contributes to e-waste?
A relatively new category of waste brought along with the high-tech boom
E-waste includes all types of electronic equipments/ products which have become obsolete or have been discarded due to:
Advancement in technology
Changes in fashion, style, status or perception
Nearing the end of their useful life
Generally understood to refer to any old, obsolete, end-of-life appliances using electricity which have been disposed off by their owners
How informal sector deals with?
A relatively new industry in India, traditionally dominated by the unorganized segment
Scrap dealers and rag-pickers gather e-waste from households in their area of operation and employ crude and highly unsafe processes for recycling the same, causing significant environmental damage
open burning of wires to extract resalable copper, soaking of circuit boards in acid baths to extract precious metal, disposing the residue into open drains or land, etc.
The formal e-waste recycling segment consists of a few large players which have the proper infrastructure to handle WEEE equipment
Unsafe methods for e-waste recycling
The unorganised segment often employs crude and highly unsafe processes for while recycling e-waste, and extracting precious materials therefrom
Magnitude of e-waste in India
As per a study released by MAIT, India generated 330,000 MT of electronic waste in 2007, while an additional 50,000 MT was illegally imported
MAIT estimates that by 2011, e-waste in India would touch 470,000 MT
The Western region contributes maximum to e-waste generation – up to 35%
Sixty five cities in India generate up to 60% of total e-waste
Ten states alone generate more than 70% of total e-waste
MAIT estimates that only 19,000 tonnes of the total e-waste generated gets ultimately processed by the formal recycling sector
As per the study, around 94% of corporates in India do not have a policy on disposal of obsolete IT products/ e-waste
Major toxic elements in e-waste
Due to the pervading reach of information technology in trade and commerce, computer waste is the most significant of all e-waste, along with televisions and cellular phones
E-waste contains both valuable as well as harmful components
Valuable components include precious metals such as gold, silver, copper, palladium, etc.
Harmful substances include lead, mercury, cadmium, etc.
Some of the key toxic elements contained within components of a computer include: