Growing concern about E-waste in India

Growing concern about E-waste in India
| 4 Min read

The use of electronic equipment has increased dramatically in India due to the rapid expansion of the IT and communications industries. Because of the increased concern over e-waste, there is a greater emphasis on recycling and better e-waste management. People keep most of the obsolete electronic equipment at home because they don’t know how to dispose of it properly. Even while the problem of ever-increasing e-waste is complex, it gives great value because these e-wastes are a rich source of valuable metals that can be recovered and reincorporated into the production process.

Improper e-waste disposal can be harmful to both the environment and humankind. So, understanding the issues and solutions to the growing E-waste in India is vital.

To begin, let’s know.

What is E-waste?

The term “e-waste” refers to “electronic and electrical waste.” Here the term “waste” indicates that an electronic product has reached the end of its useful life. The owner discards such products with no intention of reusing them.

Electronic waste includes TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, fridges, washing machines, dryers, home entertainment and stereo systems, toys, toasters, and kettles that have reached the end of their useful life.

Why is E-waste in India a problem?

Even though India has increased e-waste collection and processing by four times in four years, 95% of e-waste is illegally handled by the informal sector. The informal waste pickers, known as kabadiwalas, do not follow environmental standards and burn materials that cannot be recycled or divert to landfills, potentially causing severe environmental damage and health hazards.

Furthermore, recyclers in the informal sector use rudimentary recycling techniques that can release toxic pollutants into the surrounding environment. Many hazardous substances in e-waste are extremely dangerous to human health and the environment.

After the United States and China, India is the world’s largest producer of e-waste, producing 3.23 million tonnes per year. (Source)

In 2020-2021, India processed 3.4 lakh tonnes of e-waste. According to CPCB, the generation of plastic waste per year is increasing by 3%, and the generation of e-waste is even higher, with waste produced totaling 7.1 lakh tonnes in 2018-19 and 10.14 lakh tonnes in 2019-20. Every year, there is a 31% increase.

There are only 468 authorised recyclers and 2,808 collection points in 22 states. The capacity of 468 recyclers is 13 lakh tonnes, which is insufficient to meet India’s e-waste generation.

What are the negative effects on the environment? 

There are many negative effects on the environment. 

Air pollution is a big problem in India; nine out of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in India. (Source)

Plastic and other low-value e-waste are frequently burned, releasing fine particles into the air. Desoldering is a technique for extracting gold and silver from e-waste materials that, if done incorrectly, can emit chemicals and harmful fumes.

80% of India’s surface water is polluted, and sacred rivers Ganga and Yamuna are considered among the most polluted rivers in the world. (Source)

Dumping e-waste into landfills impacts surface and groundwater because harmful chemicals leach from landfills into surface water.

Furthermore, toxic byproducts of improper e-waste recycling will end up in sewers and city drains. These products can contaminate surface water if they enter local waterways.

How is E-waste in India recycled?

E-waste recycling is challenging because discarded electronic products are sophisticated devices consisting of varied proportions of Glass, plastic, and metal. The recycling process differs based on the material and technology employed.

1. Collection and transportation: 

Collection and transportation are the first steps in any recycling process, including E-waste. Recyclers place collection bins or electronics take-back booths in key locations and transport the material collected to recycling plants or centres.

2. Shredding, Sorting and Separation:

  • The collected material will be processed and separated into clean commodities to create new products.
  • The first step in e-waste shredding is sorting and separating plastic from metals and internal circuits. E-waste is shredded into 100mm pieces before being sorted.
  • A strong magnet separates iron and steel from waste streams on the conveyor.
  • Mechanical processing is used to separate aluminium, copper, and circuit boards from the material stream, which is now mostly plastic. Glass is separated from plastics using water separation technology.
  • The quality of extracted materials is improved by visual inspection and hand sorting.
  • The final step in the separation process is to locate and extract any remaining metal remnants from the plastics to purify the stream even further.
  • Following the completion of the shredding, sorting, and separation stages, the separated materials are ready for sale as usable raw materials for manufacturing new electronics or other products.

Importance of E-waste recycling

  • Electronic devices contain precious metals such as gold and silver; however, only 10% of those metals are recycled, with the remaining in the trash. We can make the world a better place by recovering precious metals.
  • When you recycle electronic waste, you are removing hazardous materials found in electronic products, such as mercury, chromium, and cadmium. These substances are hazardous to human life and also contain heavy metals.
  • Poisonous materials harm the ecosystem, including plants, trees, and animals. They can also create natural disasters, resulting in human tragedy and loss; hence e-waste recycling is essential.
  • The recovery of valuable materials from the recycling process reduces the demand for new raw materials.
  • Using recycled material will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions when new products known as “virgin material” are manufactured or processed.
  • Electronic devices refurbished, reused, and donated to a worthy cause can also be kept out of landfills.

How can Recykal help?

Addressing the rising issue of e-waste management requires a strong channel of e-waste disposal.

Recykal, through its digital solutions, helps your business deliver effective and transparent services to identify e-waste sellers and buyers. Furthermore, it supports you in fulfilling EPR targets, from registration to fulfillment, with hassle-free compliance.

Visit our website to learn more about our solutions or If you are interested in detailed information, reach out to us marketing@recykal.com

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