Nothing comes easily without a challenge. So is the case with Information and Communication Technology. ICT has brought enormous changes to our life, but many ended up giving a blind eye to the challenges it brought hand in hand. Today e-waste has entered the club of fastest growing waste streams. To the modern society it has became a major challenge to address it in order to achieve the global aim for sustainable development.
e-waste: What does it constitute?
In general, e-waste includes pollutants(such as lead, mercury, plastic, arsenic, …) or toxic waste generated from the electronic and electrical products after the end of the life span.
India is one of the largest importer of waste(50KT ) in addition to its own domestic waste
The cities which contributes more to the economy in India also contribute more to the e-waste generation with Mumbai at the top
Only 10 states make up 70% e-waste in India
According to CPCB estimates the waste generation has exceeded 8LT in 2012 itself
Major electronic device that contributes more is television
It is only 10-15% at the source level(manufacturing)
e-waste contains highly toxic material which is very complex to handle
EWM is mainly done by unorganized sector(80%) whose habitations are close to dump yards and has no safeguards and protection leading to several health issues as these wastes are carcinogenic
Causes rapid rise in environmental degeneration
There are only 20-30 registered recycling or waste processing units under MoEF,GOI and are being underutilized giving greater scope for unorganized sector to fill the gap , for example, Attero recycling unit in Roorkee, UP has a capacity of 36KT per year, but only 600T are being recycled
This sector is the most unregulated sector with very few laws and regulations
What can be done…
In any sector in order to reduce risks involvement of stakeholders is very important
A shift from linear model to circular economy model is required which emphasizes on reuse and recycling
Incentivizing industries through tax rebates for recycling the waste generated
Stricter implementation of existing laws such as e-waste (management and handling) rules,2011 and enacting new laws
Greater emphasis on polluter pays principle must be laid
Segregation of waste at all levels of collection, treatment, disposal is necessary
Encouragement must be provided to organized sector and PPP models to process e- waste (MAIT+EU initiative to link formal and informal recyclers)
Governament’s assistance for Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities(TSDFs)
In countries like India which have a huge population with growing consumption base it is very significant to address the issue of e-waste immediately, as predicted by various institutions. Processing of e-waste can be encouraged as it is economically viable business model and Indian government can make it through Start Up India initiatives which encourages new ideas.