India ranks among the largest exporter of E-waste. While India has banned the import of e-waste, the nation allows the refurbishment and re-exportation of second-hand goods. The lack of authorised recyclers in the country is an important reason for the export of e-waste from India. That said, without a strong network of technologies and processes to encourage the waste recycling ecosystem, the export of waste will always remain a preferred choice. So, now the question arises what is e-waste, and where does this entire e-waste go? Also, are there any regulations on the export of e-waste from India?
To answer these questions, we must first understand that while every updated version of electronics gets a bit more efficient, we should make our phones, tablets, TVs, computers, etc., last as long as possible. Doing so reduces the amount of e-waste that gets dumped into landfills. Thus, most of our electronics still go unrecycled. Most surprisingly, precious metals and rare-earth elements included in these electronic gadgets also go into landfills each year because of careless disposal of these items. People are throwing away money in the form of e-waste daily. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) developed regulations on exporting e-waste from India to combat the problem. The export and import of hazardous and other wastes are regulated under the Ministry’s Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016.
E-Waste Management Rules, 2016, released by MoEF, defines ‘e-waste’ as electrical and electronic equipment, entirely or in part discarded as waste by the bulk consumers or a consumer and rejected from refurbishment, manufacturing and repair processes.
Electronic waste (e-waste) generally includes-
The problem related to e-waste lies with the nature of the material. The e-waste stream comprises various materials — mainly hazardous substances like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, mercury, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and valuable items like steel, iron, copper, aluminium and plastics. Due to this reason, this cannot be dumped in landfill sites and require special treatment like e-waste export from India.
E-waste export from India shall be considered illegal if the following conditions are met.
As per the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, India yields about 2 million tonnes (MT) of e-waste annually. Out of which, only 20 per cent of global e-waste is recycled. Also, the country ranks fifth among e-waste-producing countries after the United States, China, Japan and Germany. India treated only 0.036 MT of its e-waste in 2016-17.
E-waste in India is increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 30 per cent. It was estimated that e-waste generation would reach 5.2 MT per annum by 2020. Having said that, the Indian e-waste management market is expected to project a CAGR of 14.25% in revenue and 8.24% in volume during the forecast period 2021-2026.
Around 95 per cent of India’s e-waste is recycled in the informal sector, that too in a crude way. A report on e-waste by the United Nations (UN) highlighted that the waste stream reached 48.5 MT in 2018. The count is expected to be twofold if everything remains the same.
The Enforcement Agencies dealing in E-waste Management in India are as follows:
E-Waste Management rules were set up to effectively handle the e-waste generated in India. The rules aim to enable the reuse and/or recovery of valuable material from e-waste. This will thereby reduce the hazardous wastes intended for disposal and guarantee the environmentally sound management of all types of waste of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). Thus, to deal with the export of e-waste from India, one needs to get permission from MoEF and State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), which stands for State Government’s State Pollution Control Board.
As specified under Schedule I, the following entities need to obtain permission or license from the MoEF to export e-waste from India –
The following documents are required for the issuance of the license allowing E-Waste export from India –
An applicant must obtain a grant of authorisation to export e-waste from India. Here’s the detailed process to be followed –
E-waste has emerged as one of the fastest-growing waste streams. The whopping count of electronic equipment reaching end-of-life poses a huge challenge. As long as electronic products have a variety of toxic chemicals and are designed without recycling, they will imperil public health and the environment. Considering the future scenario, it is vital that its safe management, like e-waste export from India, is done in an organised way with ample resources and sustainable technologies on the one hand and mechanisms and effective legislation on the other.
Read our Article: Core Components of Waste Management in India