Electronics and electrical waste items are generally referred to as E-wastes. It is also known as E-scrap. These are trash which can generate from surplus, broken and outdated electric objects. The process of E-Waste Management or electronics recycling is improving material from old devices to use in new products. The main feature of the rule in the provision of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which makes producers of electrical and electronic equipment responsible for ensuring environment-friendly recycling and disposal of their end-of-life products.
It is expected that by 2050, India will likely stare at a pile of a new category of electronic waste, namely solar e-waste. In India, no laws have been made with respect to their proper disposal and treatment.
What are called E-Waste?
E-waste includes rejected computer parts like monitors, motherboards, cell phones, and phone chargers, CDs, earphones, white goods like televisions, refrigerators air conditioners, etc.
Arsenic, Brominated flame, Barium, Copper, Cobalt, Lead, Mercury, Nickel Alloys, Brass alloys etc are pollutants or toxins in the e-waste that harms the animal, human, and plant life.
High and continued exposure to these chemicals or pollutants releases during unsafe e-waste recycling. It leads to damage in the nervous systems, kidneys, growth, and development.
are the challenges with E-Waste?
In the water streams, E-waste is increasing tremendously.
It is estimated by the Global E-Waste Monitor that 44.7 million tons (mt) of e-waste was generated in 2016
It is expected that Indians spend more on electronic items and appliances, e-waste is expected to continue to grow rapidly.
are the major reasons for rising E-waste?
E-waste is caused when electrical or electronic equipment (EEE) is rejected, returned by the consumers and manufacturing.
Rejected laptops, computers, mobiles, batteries, air conditioners, and television sets, cables and wires, tube lights and CFLs which contain mercury, are some examples of e-waste.
While technology uselessness creates e-waste (for example, landline phones, 2G vs 4G), power supply voltage flows.
India has developed as the world’s second-largest mobile market.
Telecom equipment alone accounts for 12% of the e-waste.
About more than 100 crore mobile phones in circulation, nearly 25% end up in e-waste annually.
How does improper
treatment impact our environment?
As per the reports of Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Nippon Electric Company (NEC), it says that only 5 percent of India’s E-waste gets recycled which is much less than the global recycling rate of 20 percent. The National Green Tribunal has directed a ban on single-use PVC and short-life PVC products but not on wires and cables
A majority of India’s E-waste is managed by the unorganized sector i.e. kabadiwalas, scrap dealers and dismantlers. They use dangerous methods to recover metals from circuit-boards and wires
Electrical wires are almost consistently encased in Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), which contains 57 percent chlorine, and with their act of burning produces deadly dioxins
The smoke from burning is known to cause cancer. It damages the nervous system and also poses several other health hazards
What are the preventive
measures required to be taken?
Management of e-waste requires its safe disposal.
E-waste should dismantle, refurbishment or recycle.
The E-Waste Management Rules 2016 by address these problems.
Extended producer responsibility is mandated to guarantee effective plans for the collection, setting up collection centers.
There should be a regulatory framework and compliance for infrastructure.
Cities should organize quarterly collection drives.
Producers should provide drop -off centers and set up collection centers for E-waste.
We should all buy new products turning in our old ones for a discount so that dealers become aggregators for channelizing e-items to authorized dismantlers.
Procedures for collecting electronic waste from the market are required to be followed.
Law for E-Waste management- E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016
The E-Waste Rules have been amended in the year 2018 with the objective of directing the E-waste the country towards authorized dismantlers and recyclers in order to validate the e-waste recycling sector. For new producers, E-waste collection targets have been made.
Manufacturer, dealer and Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) have been introduced as additional stakeholders in the rules.
Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and lamp containing mercury should have brought under the purview of rules.
Collection mechanism-based under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
Setting up of PRO for E-waste exchange, e – retailer, Deposit Refund Scheme.
CPCB has made provisions for EPR Authorization in whole India. It is replacing the state-wise EPR authorization.
On the basis of sectors, the target Collection Target for E-waste may depend on the number or weight which shall be 30% of the quantity of waste generation. This is indicated in EPR Plan for the first two years of functioning. It is followed by 40% in third and fourth years, and hence after.
Deposit Refund Scheme is introduced as an economic instrument.
The E-waste exchange can be option as an independent market instrument.
The manufacturer is also responsible to collect E-waste generated during the manufacture of any electrical and electronic equipment.
The dealers need to collect the e-waste by providing the consumer with a box and channelize it to Producer.
Dealer or retailer or E – retailer should refund the amount as per take-back system or Deposit Refund Scheme of the manufacturer to the depositor of E-waste.
The State Government has been introduced in the Rules in order to ensure safety, health and skill improvement of all the workers who are involved in dismantling and recycling.
The Industrial Department in the State and other Government agencies has marked industrial space/ shed for E-waste dismantling and recycling in the existing industrial space.
The Governmental agencies and the Labour Department in the State or any other government agency has given facility to groups of workers, for skill development activities for dismantling and recycling; and undertake annual monitoring and to ensure safety & health of workers.
State Government to prepare integrated plan to submit an annual report to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Rules have been introduced for charging liabilities with respect to the damage caused in the environment or due to improper treatment of E-waste. This includes levying heavy monetary financial penalty on violating the provisions of the law.
What are the benefits of
Environmental and economic benefits of recycling e-waste:
According to EPA, recycling one million laptops can save the energy equal of electricity that can run 3,657 U.S. households for a year. EPA also states that by recycling one million cell phones, we can recover 75 lbs of gold, 772 lbs of silver, and 35,274 lbs of copper and 33 lbs of palladium.
According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, it takes 1.5 tons of water, 530 lbs of fossil fuel and 40 Ibs of chemicals to production a single computer and monitor.
81 percent of energy associated with a computer is used during production and not during the process.
Electronics contains various toxic and hazardous chemicals and materials that are released into the environment if we do not dispose of them properly.
Electronics recycling is a challenging process. It is done by discarded electronics devices which are sophisticated devices manufactured from varying proportions of glass, metals, and plastics. The recycling process can vary, depending upon materials being recycled and the technologies employed.
· Collection and
Collection and transportation are two of the
initial stages of the recycling process. Recyclers place collection bins or
electronics take-back booths in specific locations. Then transport the
collected e-waste from these sites to recycling plants and facilities.
Shredding, Sorting, and Separation:
After collection and transportation to
recycling facilities, materials in the e-waste are processed and separated into
clean commodities. It can be used to make new products. Well-organized
separation of materials is the foundation of electronics recycling. Initial destroying
of e-waste stream facilitates sorting and separation of plastics from metals
and internal circuitry. So, e-waste items are shredded into pieces as small as
100mm to prepare for further sorting.
Iron and steel can be separated by a powerful overhead magnet from the waste stream on the conveyor. Then the separated steel materials are prepared for sale as recycled steel. By mechanical processing aluminum, copper and circuit boards are separated from the material stream. Then, water separation technology is used to separate glass from plastics. The separated streams of aluminum, copper and circuit boards are collected and prepared for sale as recycled product materials. The final step in the separation process locates and extracts any remaining metal remnants from the plastics to extra purify the stream.
Preparation for Sale as Recycled Materials
The separated materials
are prepared for sale as functional raw materials for the production of
new electronics or other products.
Organizations associated with E-waste recycling
Current Challenges for Electronics
The E-waste recycling industry has a
significant number of challenges. Some of them are:
Electronics Recycling Laws
Many electronic waste laws have been passed.
Currently, 25 U.S. states have laws mandating statewide e-waste recycling. Many
states are working toward passing new legislation and improving the existing
policy. Presently, 65 percent of the U.S. population is covered by state
e-waste recycling laws. In some states including California, Connecticut,
Illinois, and Indiana, e-waste is banned from landfills.
We are creating e-waste at a rapid rate. These electronics transition into e-waste at a rapid speed. It was estimated that there were 422 million unused and unwanted cell phones storing in people’s homes by the end of 2015.
Every year millions of electronic devices such
as mobile phones, TVs, computers, laptops, and tablets reach the end of their
India: Emerging as one of the world’s major electronic waste generators and likely to generate 52 lakh metric tonnes (MT) per annum by 2020 from the current level 18 lakh MT
Growth: A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 30%
Global: Volume of e-waste generated is expected to reach 130 million tons in 2018 from 93.5 million tons in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of 17.6% from 2016 to 2018
Components: Computer equipment accounts for almost 70% of e-waste material followed by telecommunication equipment (12%), electrical equipment (8%) and medical equipment (7%)
Other equipment, including household e-crap account for the remaining 4%
Recycling: A mere 1.5% of India’s total e-waste gets recycled
Reasons: Poor infrastructure, legislation, and framework
Effects: A waste of diminishing natural resources, irreparable damage of environment and health of the people working in the industry
Health: About 2/3 of e-waste workers in India suffering from respiratory ailments like breathing difficulties, irritation, coughing, choking, tremors problem
Need: To bring out effective legislation to prevent the entry of child labor into its collection, segregation, and distribution
Recycling e-waste enables us to recover various valuable metals and other materials from electronics, saving natural resources (energy), reducing pollution, conserving landfill space, and creating jobs.
Majority of these electronic products are dumped in the
landfills and a small portion of the waste is recycled into new electronic
devices. As per the UN study, in 2014 alone, 41.8 million tons of electronic
waste (e-waste) was discarded worldwide, Electronics have various important
elements and compounds like copper, iron, tin, titanium, aluminum, gold, and
silver. Some of these materials can be recycled, recovered and reused. Many
materials used for making those electronic devices can be recovered, reused and
recycled. As per the press release by Apple in 2015, it has been said that they
have recovered 2,204 pounds of gold from the recycled iPhones, Macbooks.