In India, the problem of e-waste is emerging day by day. Disposal of e-waste is an emerging global environmental and public health issue, as this waste has become the most rapidly growing segment of the formal municipal waste stream in the world. E-waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) are loosely discarded, surplus, obsolete, broken, electrical or electronic devices. In India electronic waste is stored at home as people do not know how to discard them. This ever increasing waste is very hazardous and complex to nature. This is also a rich source of metals such as gold, silver, and copper, which can be recovered and brought back into the production cycle. Therefore, the proper need of e-waste management is very important.
Electronic equipment contain many hazardous metallic contaminants such as lead, cadmium, and beryllium and brominated flame-retardants. Children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning – more so than adults because they absorb more lead from their environment and their nervous system and blood get affected. It is found that the e-waste recycling activities had contributed to the elevated blood lead levels in children.
How have the new laws on e-waste management in India been effective?
E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016, enacted since October 1, 2017, had further strengthened the existing rules. Over 21 products (Schedule-I) were included under the purview of the rule. The rule also extended its purview to components or consumables or parts or spares of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE),along with their products.
Effective E-Waste Management
Effective awareness would be the right step for all stakeholders. As per the rule, manufacturers have been mandated to create awareness in the country. The programme stresses the need for adopting environmentally friendly e-waste recycling practices. The general public is also encouraged to participate in ‘Swachh Digital Bharat’, by giving their e-waste to authorised recyclers only.
The importance of e-waste management in India?
E-waste is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 30% in the country. Assocham estimated that e-waste generation was 1.8 million metric tonnes (MT) per annum in 2016 and would reach 5.2 million metric tonnes per annum by 2020. Unless we have effective implementation of the rule, the country would end up creating many such informal processing hubs such as those in Moradabad and Seelampur, where soil, water and air are polluted to a beyond-repairable level. Strict implementation of the rule, creating adequate awareness, training for requisite skill sets and providing affordable technology to the informal sector could be a game-changer. Up-gradation of the informal sector to reach environmentally acceptable operations is presently missing, and is not part of the rule.
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