What is E-waste?

  • Electronic waste (e-waste) is generated, when electronic and Electrical equipment become old or unfit for their originally intended Use or has crossed the expiry date of it.
  • Computers, computer accessories,CDs,printers, scanners, fax machines, battery cells, cellular phones, TVs, iPods,washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners are examples of e-waste, when they are unfit for use.
  • India is the “5th largest e-waste generater in the world“; approx 2 million tons of e-waste is generated per annum
  • In India, the amount of e-waste generated differs by state. The three states that produce the most e-waste are as follows: Tamil Nadu ,Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Per annum, computer related accessories account for nearly 70% of e-waste,12% comes from the telecom sector, 8% from medical equipment and 7% from electric equipment.
  • The government, public sector companies, and private sector companies generate nearly 75% of electronic waste, with the contribution of individual household waste being only 16%.

Environmental impacts

  • The processes used to recycle and dispose of e-waste in India have led to a number of detrimental environmental impacts. As a result, improper recycling and disposal techniques, air, water and soil
    throughout much of India are now contaminated with toxic e-waste byproducts.


  •  Air pollution is a widespread problem in India; nine out of the ten most polluted cities on earth are in India.
  • An important contributor to India’s air pollution problem is widespread, improper recycling and disposal of e-waste
  • For example, dismantling and shredding of e-waste releases
  • dust and particulates into the surrounding air. Low value e-waste
  • products like plastics are often burned this releases fine particles into the air that can travel hundreds-to- thousands of miles.


  • India’s sacred Yamuna River and Ganges River are considered to be among the most polluted rivers in the world. It is estimated that nearly 80% of India’s surface water is polluted.
  • Sewage, pesticide runoff and industrial waste, including e-waste, all contribute to India’s water pollution problem.

Challenges of E-waste Management in India

  • Involvement of Child Labour: In India, about 4.5 lakh child labourers in the age group of 10-14 are observed to be engaged in various E-waste activities and that too without adequate protection and safeguards in various yards and recycling workshops.
  • Lack of infrastructure: There is huge gap between present recycling and collection facilities and quantum of E-waste that is being generated. No collection and take back mechanisms are in place. There is lack of recycling facilities.
  • Lack of incentive scheme: No clear guidelines are there for the unorganized sector to handle E-waste. Also no incentives are mentioned to lure people engaged to adopt formal path for handling E-waste
  • Security implications: Computers often contain sensitive personal information and bank account details which, if not deleted leave opportunity for fraud.
  • Poor awareness and sensitization: Limited reach out and awareness regarding disposal, after determining end of useful life. Also only 2% of individuals think of the impact on environment while disposing off their old electrical and electronic equipment.

Government Legislations

E-waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011

  • An addition to the Environmental Protection Act of 1986, the E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules of 2011 came into effect in May 2012. The rules stated that all manufacturers and importers of electronic goods were required to come up with a plan to manage their electronic waste.
  • These rules also mandated that sellers of electronic goods must provide consumers with information on how to properly dispose of the electronics in order to prevent people from dumping their electronics with domestic waste.
  • Producers or importers had to establish e-waste collection centers or employ take back systems.
  • These rules also mandated that commercial consumers and government departments must keep records of their electronic waste and make them available to state and federal Pollution Control Boards.

E-waste Management Rules, 2016

  • This set of rules clarifies duties of responsible parties, enacts more stringent regulations on e-waste production, as well as clarifies the general definition of e-waste. In these rules, e-waste is defined as “electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes.
  • Electrical and electronic equipment’ in turn has been defined to mean equipment which are dependent on electric current or electro-magnetic field in order to become functional.
  •  Collection mechanism based approach has been adopted to include collection centre, collection point, take back system etc for collection of e-waste by Producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Option has been given for setting up of PRO, e-waste exchange,e-retailer, Deposit Refund Scheme as additional channel for implementation of EPR by Producers to ensure efficient channelization of e-waste.
  • Provision for Pan India EPR Authorization by CPCB has been, introduced replacing the state wise EPR authorization.
  • Collection and channelization of e-waste in Extended Producer Responsibility: Authorisation shall be in line with the targets  prescribed in Schedule III of the Rules. The phase wise Collection Target for e-waste, which can be either in number or Weight shall be 30% of the quantity of waste generation as indicated in EPR Plan during first two year of implementation of rules followed by 40% during third and fourth years, 50% during
    fifth and sixth years and 70% during seventh year onwards.

Initiatives ;

  • Effective awareness would be the right step for all stakeholders.
  • There is a need for adopting environmentally friendly e-waste recycling practices.
  • Unless we have effective implementation of the rule, the country would end up creating many informal processing hubs.
  • Domestic legal framework to address these gaps in import of E-Waste.
  • Need to address safe disposal of domestic waste.
  • tax incentives for scrap dealers.
  • Reward and reprimand schemes for performance and noncompliance of e-waste management.
  • Promote recycling units to ease process and to encourage generators to have proper e-waste disposal.
  • Impart training to generators on e-waste handling.










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