Gadgets are one of the most ubiquitous components of our modern lifestyle – used, forgotten, abused, active and outdated gadgets. These (once) objects of fancy soon find themselves falling out of favor and quietly finding an uninhabited space in our residences and offices. A recent survey by Nokia has revealed that only 2-3 % of people actually recycle their mobile phones. Majority of the consumers are completely ignorant of the negative environmental impacts of gadgets and also about the recycling programs.
Our projected E-waste generation (2012 – 2025):
According to a recent report from Center for Science and Environment (CSE), India is guilty of generating 350,000 tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) every year and imports another 50,000 tonnes. Out of this mammoth e-waste pile, only 19,000 tonnes are recycled. Some of the top generators of e-waste in India are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
E-waste: Winds of change
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has crafted a new e-waste legislation that has laid out mandatory procedures for manufacturers under the Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR). This legislation will be effective from May 1st, 2012. According to this legislation, the manufacturers are held responsible for…
- Reduction of levels in hazardous substances in electronics
- setting up of collection centers
These rules will be applicable to every producer, consumer and bulk consumer involved in the manufacture, sale, purchase and processing of electronic equipment or components. The Central Pollution Control Board will be an active participant in the whole process in the capacity of a monitoring and watchdog agency – and will be required to submit an annual report (state wise) with regards to the implementation of these rules. As a positive outcome of this legislation, Original equipment manufacturers are willing to partner with e-waste recycling agencies with the intent of expanding their recycling reach in the country.
Companies like Nokia, Dell, HP, Canon and Samsung have set in place very aggressive recycling agenda for 2012.
How does it work / How will it work?
In a typical e-waste management system, Clients / producers / OEM (manufacturers) pay recycling agencies a nominal service fee to collect the e-waste within a certain periphery. The recyclers in turn procure the gadgets from the consumers by paying a nominal fee (depending upon the gadget and its condition). The recyclers either refurbish the gadget or dispatch it for the extraction of important / hazardous metals.
It is a great start for a rather specialized kind of waste (whose negative effects are not visible immediately) – Major mobile phone manufacture, Nokia has established almost more than 1400 bins across India to collect disposed mobile phones and accessories from its consumers. Nokia is also collaborating with 10 companies who are actively engaged in electronics recycling. On a global level, Nokia has collected more than 1.5 million pieces of phones & accessories weighing over 70 tonnes.
Indian e-waste landscape
The major e-waste generating states:
Unlike the European and North American countries, India has a great diversity as far as its electronic consumption is considered. One can argue that the level of e-waste generated is directly linked with the consumption capacity and the scale of globalization. Well, without going off the track, it makes sense for the policy makers and entrepreneurs to understand the opportunities and magnitude of e-waste pollution in the Indian sub-continent – The following chart does that…
The major e-waste generating cities: