India produced 10,14,961.2 tonnes of e-waste, about 31.6% increase from the previous year, says the Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
Highlighting the increase in the production of e-waste in the country, Choubey told the Rajya Sabha that the government has assessed e-waste during 2017-18; 2018-19; and 2019-20. The Environment Ministry has notified 21 types of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) as e-waste.
“The Ministry has been promoting and encouraging the establishment of an efficient e-waste collection mechanism, which is environmentally safe and sound, recycling through authorized dismantlers and recyclers of e-waste,” the minister said. “This minimizes the illegal recycling and recovery operations and reduces hazardous substances in electrical and electronic components.”
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) issues EPR authorization to the producers of EEE along with e-waste collection targets on annual basis. Choubey said that as per the information provided by the CPCB, a total number of 1,766 producers have been registered for EPR Authorization and also 57 Producers Responsibility Organizations (PROs) have obtained registration.
He added that 400 dismantlers and recyclers of e-waste are operating in 20 states – Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal.
E-waste is categorized as hazardous and non-hazardous and it includes ferrous and non-ferrous metals like copper, aluminium, silver, gold, platinum, palladium, plastics, glass, wood and plywood as well as circuit boards, concrete, ceramics and rubber. E-waste is risky because of the presence of elements like mercury, lead, selenium, flame retardants, selenium, hexavalent and arsenic etc.
The mounting quantity of discarded e-waste is worrisome and so is its improper disposal. It usually reaches either the landfills or the unregulated markets. Ashley Delaney, Founder of Group TenPlus, which manages the collection of electronic waste said an ordinary circuit board from a mobile or laptop contains roughly 16 different metals. “Most informal sectors will probably be able to retrieve a couple of metals and landfill the rest. Hazardous chemicals like mercury, which are used to extract these metals, leach into the soil, which will be damaged forever.”