What are they?
- Electronic waste, also called e-waste, various forms of electric and electronic equipment that have ceased to be of value to their users or no longer satisfy their original purpose.
- Electronic waste (e-waste) products have exhausted their utility value through either redundancy, replacement, or breakage and include both “white goods” such as refrigerators, washing machines, and microwaves and “brown goods” such as televisions, radios, computers, and cell phones.
- E-waste stream contains diverse materials, which requires special treatment and cannot be dumped in landfill sites, most prominently, hazardous substances such as lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), mercury, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), beryllium, cadmium, mercury, and valuable substances such as iron, steel, copper, aluminium, gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and plastics
- When E-waste gets buried at a landfill, it can dissolve in microscopic traces into the sludge that permeates at the landfill. Eventually, these traces of toxic materials pool into the ground below the landfill. This is known as leaching.
- The more E-waste and metals at the landfill, the more of these trace toxic materials show up in the groundwater.
- Initially, the Basel Convention (1992) did not mention e-waste, but in 2006(COP 8), it was amended to include it .
- At COP-9 of Basel Convention(Control of the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste) , the Nairobi Declaration was adopted. Its goal was to come up with new ways to manage electronic waste in an environmentally friendly way.
E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016
- 21 types of electrical and electronic equipments listed
- It featured compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), as well as other mercury-containing bulbs and equipment.
- For the first time, the laws imposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) on producers, along with targets. Producers have been given responsibility for the collection and exchange of E-waste.
- Various producers can each have their own Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) to ensure that E-waste is collected and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
- The Deposit Refund Scheme was introduced as an additional economic instrument in which the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of electrical and electronic equipment and then returns it to the consumer with interest when the end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.
- There is also a provision for a penalty for breaking the rules.
- State governments have also been given a role in ensuring the safety, health, and skill development of workers working in dismantling and recycling activities.
- The task of collecting and channelling orphan products to authorised dismantlers or recyclers has been given to Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation).
- Providing adequate space for e-waste dismantling and recycling to existing and upcoming industrial units.
India and e-waste
- In 2018, the environment ministry had told the tribunal that 95 percent of e-waste in India is recycled by the informal sector and scrap dealers unscientifically dispose of it by burning or dissolving it in acids.
- India collected just 10 percent of the electronic waste (e-waste) estimated to have been generated in the country 2018-19 and 3.5 percent of that generated in 2017-18, said a recent report by the Central Pollution Control Board.
- India generated 708,445 tonne e-waste in 2017-18 and 771,215 tonne the following fiscal, the report estimated. In 2019-20, the figure rose 32 per cent to 1,014,961 tonnes.
- Against this, the e-waste dismantling capacity has not been increased from 7.82 lakh tonnes since 2017-18.
- Delhi was among the top e-waste contributors in the country with 9.5%
Why in news:
- The pandemic has caused an increase in the disposal of e-waste in an unsystematic manner.