The Glaring Need for E-Waste Management in India

Last Updated: Tue, Jun 05, 2018 20:48 hrs

(A file-picture of e-waste used for landfill. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

India's e-waste production is predicted to touch a whopping 3 million tons by the end of this year. Waste from industries is a major contributor at 70%. Indian households contribute to almost 15% of the e-waste, and the rest comes from discarded or ‘end of life’ electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). Due to its growth trajectory, young population and contribution to the global ITeS sector, India is one of the fastest growing consumers of EEE.

E-waste is hazardous which makes its improper management a grave concern. This is a critical challenge to the modern Indian society, and there is a need for coordinated efforts from the government, NGOs, and the general public towards managing e-waste better for sustainable development.

Health Risks From E-Wastes

Over one million people work in the informal sector in India. Many of them are employed to break discarded, rejected or obsolete EEE down, mostly through unsafe methods. These people get exposed to hazardous chemicals and gases. When e-waste is not managed and recycled in a methodical manner, it leads to severe health impacts for those who come in contact with it.

E-waste contains e-toxins such as Antimony, Arsenic, Barium, Beryllium, BFRs, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Dioxins, etc. When humans encounter these toxins through water or air, they are exposed to health ailments like nosebleeds, seizures, development retardation in children, lung damage, high blood pressure, paralysis and skin cancer. E-wastes are burned, releasing toxic gases into the air we breathe. The people who perform these informal recycling practices are laid bare to their harmful effects. Some of these metals also lead to fatal conditions like death.

Metals from e-waste of EEE directly impact the workers who treat these with bare hands without any safeguards. For safer and more effective disposal and recycling, e-waste must be brought into the ambit of the organized sector.

The e-waste management and collection processes are still in nascent stages in India, which has led to a number of informal and manual recycling outfits. The labour employed in these illegal outfits have low literacy rates and more often than not, they know nothing about the implications of getting in contact with these hazardous metals they manage.

The government has declared revised and improved policies for e-waste management, stating that by 2023, electronic goods manufacturing companies will have to collect and channel 70% of e-waste from consumers to authorised dismantlers and recyclers. This is a paradigm shift, but proper systems to implement this and make stakeholders accountable still have to be set up.

Poorly administered e-waste pollutes soil and water in the landfills. Along with threats posed to health, these practices also pose substantial risks to the environment.

How Cerebra Aims to Make a Difference

The current e-waste management system presents a disturbing picture. Therefore, companies like Cerebra Integrated Technology has stepped up to the cause. They are partnering with NGOs and rotary clubs to promote awareness and plans to engage children in e-waste collection campaigns and drives. They’re in process of galvanizing collections vans across the country to collect EEE e-waste from collection points, resident welfare associations (RWA), corporates and service centres. This waste will then be recycled safely since the company is an authorized e-waste recycler.

At the ground level, such companies are aiming to form a registered recyclers' association and make representations to the government about the menace e-waste is causing in the country. They also want to give technology a boost and enable formal recycling which is otherwise dominated by informal sector processing the E Waste in the most hazardous way.

We have offices in cities in India that happen to be the highest e-waste producers – Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune & Surat and we are tying up with local resellers in various tier 2 and 3 cities to join us as channel partners – to collect and safely recycle EEE e-waste for a better tomorrow," said V Ranganathan, Founder & Managing Director of Cerebra Integrated Technologies. "Since small and medium enterprises are active on WhatsApp, we are also leveraging that platform to spread awareness, create dedicated groups of people who want towards this mission and contribute to a cleaner and a sustainable India."

V Ranganathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Cerebra Integrated Technologies. Besides offering contract manufacturing and computing services, Cerebra also operates an e-waste facility capable of handling up to 96000 tons of E Waste. The company is headquartered in Bengaluru.

More from Sify: