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April23

Responsible Management of Electronic Waste in India

A Big Market Requires Smart Solutions

 

By Sanjay Saxena – Sr. Vice President Operations, India

 

As the tide of proliferating electrical and electronic products continues to build and grow, the world is confronting a waste stream like few others. Resource recovery, value extraction, management of hazardous substances, landfill diversion and social demand, are driving a worldwide push to improve the effective recovery, resuse and recycling of unwanted electronics or e-waste.

 

India’s march towards economic growth, development and changing lifestyles has led to growing dependence on electronics. This leaves the country at a crossroads. This transition is necessary and desirable, but it also results in significant volumes of unwanted devices and equipment, including related consumables such as printer cartridges and batteries.

 

E-waste has fast emerged as a priority environmental concern in India because of the large quantities and existing processing practices that result in inferior environmental outcomes and harm to human health. To address the concerns, E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, were notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forest in 2011, which came into effect from May 1, 2012.

 

The 2011 rules are in their third year of implementation yet e-waste is still polluting the air, water and soil through continued improper management. Well over 90% of e-waste in India flows to the un-organised or ‘informal’ sector to be processed and/or disposed. These unorganised sector players extract what they find valuable and typically dump the remaining residual materials and components. Over a period of time, due to exposure from heat and humidity, toxic chemicals may leach into the ground water and soil causing potentially deleterious ecological and health impacts.

 

The latest government reports suggest that India generates around 1.2 million tonnes of e-waste annually. There are over 140 approved recyclers across India that are capable of properly processing this waste, yet they are currently working below their capacity. Why? Is this because they are not reporting e-waste collected and instead selling it to the informal sector, or is it because of their lack of awareness?

 

Sanjay Saxena, Infoactiv’s Sr. Vice President Operations in India, believes improved awareness as well as ethical recyclers doing the right thing, are vital elements that will help positively change the state of e-waste management in India.

 

India is starting to improve its awareness surrounding the health and environmental importance of proper e-waste disposal. Campaigns organised by government, NGOs, IT companies, recyclers and trade associations are appearing more regularly.

 

The general public is also changing its behavior towards methods that dispose of e-waste in ways that may not necessarily provide monetary benefit but ensure disposal methods take into account the environment and human health.

 

Finally, if recyclers continue to operate with their current business practices that involve incorrect volume reporting and selling e-waste to the informal or unorganised sector, the unsafe practices within this sector will continue to flourish. The aim is to improve the level of worker safety and environmental outcomes of the informal sector, thus retaining its vital role in supporting livelihoods.

 

Government, companies and individuals must work cooperatively to ensure that e-waste is being handled properly and to relevant standards and procedures. Until this happens, recyclers will be operating under capacity and the harmful practices within the informal sector will persist.

 

Infoactiv has been playing an active role in the e-waste space for over a decade, and is working with a variety of educational institutions, IT companies, manufacturers and industry associations to assist and improve their e-waste management and disposal programs. This has included designing asset disposition programs that ensure responsible management of electronics. Infoactiv’s programs advise approved recyclers that have been audited to ensure collection and processing practices comply with relevant policies, laws, regulations and standards.

 

We are always available and interested to talk about solutions and services that can help your organization or agency roll-out more effectively and efficiently manage e-waste, batteries. lighting products and other complex or problematic products and materials.

 

For more information:

 

Sanjay Saxena – Sr. Vice President Operations, India

Mobile: +91 98 60 59 9993

Tel: +91 20 41201254

Email: sanjay.saxena@infoactiv.com

 

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