Ewastex - 123SeminarsOnly


Nov 9, 2013 (5 years and 3 months ago)



Definition of e


Global trends of ewaste

Issue of e
waste in India

Impacts of e

Details of e

Sources of e

Imports of e

waste Management

Sustainable Management of e

Business opportunities of

Details of E
waste Management Techniques


The twentieth century marked the beginning of use of equipments like radio, television and
a ground breaking discovery

the first computer. Innovation and development in the field of
cience and technology and an open global market resulted in availability of a range of
products at affordable prices, changing the very lifestyle of societies. New electronic
appliances have infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives, providing society wi
th more
comfort, health and security, with easy and faster information acquisition and exchange.

The term E
WASTE is quite a lucrative term. We all are aware of it but neither of us care to get what
exactly the thing is. It’s a cause of pollution we all kn
ow but none of us is aware of what type of
pollution does it cause.

Many of us might not be even sure

whether e
waste in any way may
be a potential pollution as the
other type of pollutant which causes air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution etc.
. This
research by a group of students of EC Branch of Nirma Institute of Technology, Nirma University has
tried its best to throw light on the ignored topic by most of us and bring an innovative approach to
tackle with it…

Definition Of E

Electronic waste" may be defined as all secondary computers, entertainment device
mobile ph
, and other items such as

sets and
, whether sold,
donated, or discarded by thei
r original owners. This definition includes used electronics which are
destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling, or disposal. Others define the re
usables (working and
repairable electronics) and secondary scrap (
, etc.) to be "commodities", and
reserve the term "waste" for residue or material which was represented as working or repairable but
which is dumped or disposed or discarded by the buyer rather than recycled, including residue from
reuse and recycling oper
ations. Because loads of surplus electronics are frequently commingled
(good, recyclable, and non
recyclable), several public policy advocates apply the term "e
broadly to all surplus electronics. The
United States Environmental Protection Agency

includes discarded CRT monitors in its category of "hazardous household waste".

but considers
CRTs set aside for testing to be commodities if they are not discarded, speculatively accumulated, or
left unprotected from weather and other damage.

Debate continues over the distinction

between "commodity" and "waste" electronics definitions.
Some exporters may deliberately leave difficult
spot obsolete or non
working equipment mixed
in loads of working equipment (through ignorance, or to avoid more costly treatment processes).
tionists may broaden the definition of "waste" electronics. The high value of the

subset of electronic waste (working and reusable laptops, computers
, and components
) can help pay the cost of transportation for a large number of worthless "electronic

Sources of E

As of the definition of e
waste suggests that it compr
ises of electronic gadgets, its sources of
course ranges from the place of its production to the place of its disposal. So the very first
place where it is produced, it’s production unit to the place it is consumed

industries and all the othe
r possible places as this is a tech
savvy world to finally the place
where it goes after being discarded by the users. The place be the scrap grounds, the
recycling place or the disposable units.

Industrial revolution followed by the advances in informatio
n technology during the last century has
radically changed people's lifestyle. Although this development has helped the human race,
mismanagement has led to new problems of contamination and pollution. The technical prowess
acquired during the last century

has posed a new challenge in the management of wastes. For
example, personal computers (PCs) contain certain components, which are highly toxic, such as
chlorinated and brominated substances, toxic gases, toxic metals, biologically active materials, acids
plastics and plastic additives. The hazardous content of these materials pose an environmental and
health threat. Thus proper management is necessary while disposing or recycling e

These days computer has become most common and widely used gadget

in all kinds of activities
ranging from schools, residences, offices to manufacturing industries. E
toxic components in
computers could be summarized as circuit boards containing heavy metals like lead & cadmium;
batteries containing cadmium; cathode ray
tubes with lead oxide & barium; brominated flame
retardants used on printed circuit boards, cables and plastic casing; poly vinyl chloride (PVC) coated
copper cables and plastic computer casings that release highly toxic dioxins & furans when burnt to
ver valuable metals; mercury switches; mercury in flat screens; poly chlorinated biphenyl's
(PCB's) present in older capacitors; transformers; etc. Basel Action Network (BAN) estimates that the
500 million computers in the world contain 2.87 billion kgs of

plastics, 716.7 million kgs of lead and
286,700 kgs of mercury. The average 14
inch monitor uses a tube that contains an estimated 2.5 to 4
kgs of lead. The lead can seep into the ground water from landfills thereby contaminating it. If the
tube is crushe
d and burned, it emits toxic fumes into the air.

2. E

As there is no separate collection of e
waste in India, there is no clear data on the quantity

generated and disposed of each year and the resulting extent of environmental risk. The

practice to get rid of obsolete electronic items in India is to get them in exchange
from retailers

when purchasing a new item. The business sector is estimated to account for
78% of all installed

computers in India (Toxics Link, 2003). Obsolete
computers from the
business sector are sold by

auctions. Sometimes educational institutes or charitable
institutions receive old computers for

reuse. It is estimated that the total number of
obsolete personal computers emanating each year

from business and

individual households
in India will be around 1.38 million. According to a

report of Confederation of Indian
Industries, the

total waste generated by obsolete or broken

down electronic and electrical
equipment in India has been estimated to be 1,46,000 to
ns per

year (CII, 2006).

The results of a field survey conducted in the Chennai, a metroplolitan city of India to assess

the average usage and life of the personal computers (PCs), television (TV) and mobile

showed that the average household usage of

the PC ranges from 0.39 to 1.70
depending on the

income class (Shobbana Ramesh and Kurian Joseph, 2006). In the case of
TV it varied from

1.07 to 1.78 and for mobile phones it varied from 0.88 to 1.70. The low
income households use

the PC for 5.94 years,
TV for 8.16 years and the mobile phones for
2.34 years while, the upper

income class uses the PC for 3.21 years, TV for 5.13 years and
mobile phones for 1.63 years.

Although the per
capita waste production in India is still
relatively small, the total abso

volume of wastes generated will be huge. Further, it is
growing at a faster rate. The growth rate

of the mobile phones (80%) is very high compared
to that of PC (20%) and TV (18%). The

public awareness on e
wastes and the willingness of
the public to
pay for e
waste management as

assessed during the study based on an
organized questionnaire revealed that about 50% of the

public are aware of environmental
and health impacts of the electronic items. The willingness of

public to pay for e

ranges from 3.57% to 5
.92% of the product cost for PC
3.94 % to 5.95 % for TV
and 3.4 % to 5 % for the mobile phones.

Additionally considerable quantities of e
waste are reported to be imported (Agarwal, 1998;

Toxics Link, 2004). However, no confirmed fig
ures available on how substantial are these

transboundary e
waste streams, as most of such trade in e
waste is camouflaged and

under the pretext of obtaining ‘reusable’ equipment or ‘donati
ons’ from
developed nations. The
government trade data do
es not distinguish between imports of
new and old computers and

peripheral parts and so it is difficult to track what share of
imports is used electronic goods.

Effects on Human Health

Disposal of e
wastes is a particular problem faced in many regions across the globe.
Computer wastes that are landfilled produces contaminated leachates which eventually
pollute the groundwater. Acids and sludge obtained from melting computer chips, if
posed on the ground causes acidification of soil. For example, Guiyu, Hong Kong a
thriving area of illegal e
waste recycling is facing acute water shortages due to the
contamination of water resources.

This is due to disposal of recycling wastes such as ac
ids, sludges etc. in rivers. Now water is
being transported from faraway towns to cater to the demands of the population.
Incineration of e
wastes can emit toxic fumes and gases, thereby polluting the surrounding
air. Improperly monitored landfills can cau
se environmental hazards. Mercury will leach
when certain electronic devices, such as circuit breakers are destroyed. The same is true for
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from condensers. When brominated flame retardant
plastic or cadmium containing plast
ics are landfilled, both polybrominated dlphenyl ethers
(PBDE) and cadmium may leach into the soil and groundwater. It has been found that
significant amounts of lead ion are dissolved from broken lead containing glass, such as the
cone glass of cathode ra
y tubes, gets mixed with acid waters and are a common occurrence
in landfills.

Not only does the leaching of mercury poses specific problems, the vaporization of metallic
mercury and dimethylene mercury, both part of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipme
(WEEE) is also of concern. In addition, uncontrolled fires may arise at landfills and this could
be a frequent occurrence in many countries. When exposed to fire, metals and other
chemical substances, such as the extremely toxic dioxins and furans (TCDD

dioxin, PCDDs
polychlorinated dibenzo
dioxins. PBDDs
polybrominated dibenzo
dioxin and PCDFs
poly chlorinated dibenzo furans) from halogenated flame retardant
products and PCB containing condensers can be emitted. The most dangerous fo
rm of
burning e
waste is the open
air burning of plastics in order to recover copper and other
metals. The toxic fall
out from open air burning affects both the local environment and
broader global air currents, depositing highly toxic by products in many
places throughout
the world.

Table I summarizes the health effects of certain constituents in e
wastes. If these electronic
items are discarded with other household garbage, the toxics pose a threat to both health
and vital components of the ecosystem. In
view of the ill
effects of hazardous wastes to
both environment and health, several countries exhorted the need for a global agreement
to address the problems and challenges posed by hazardous waste. Also, in the late 1980s, a
tightening of environmental r
egulations in industrialized countries led to a dramatic rise in
the cost of hazardous waste disposal. Searching for cheaper ways to get rid of the wastes,
"toxic traders" began shipping hazardous waste to developing countries. International
outrage follow
ing these irresponsible activities led to the drafting and adoption of strategic
plans and regulations at the Basel Convention. The Convention secretariat, in Geneva,
Switzerland, facilitates and implementation of the Convention and related agreements. It
also provides assistance and guidelines on legal and technical issues, gathers statistical data,
and conducts training on the proper management of hazardous waste.

Table I: Effects of E
Waste constituent on health

Source of e


Health effe

Solder in printed
circuit boards, glass
panels and gaskets in
computer monitors

Lead (PB)

Damage to central and peripheral nervous
systems, blood systems and kidney damage.

Affects brain development of children.

Chip resistors and

Cadmium (CD)

Toxic irreversible effects on human health.

Accumulates in kidney and liver.

Causes neural damage.


Relays and switches,
printed circuit boards

Mercury (Hg)

Chronic damage to the brain.

Respiratory and skin disorders due to
bioaccumulation in fishes.

Corrosion protection
of untreated and
galvanized steel
plates, decorator or
hardner for steel

chromium (Cr) VI

Asthmatic bronchitis.

DNA damage.

Cabling and computer

Plastics including

Burning pr
oduces dioxin. It causes

Reproductive and developmental problems;

Immune system damage;

Interfere with regulatory hormones

Plastic housing of
electronic equipments
and circuit boards.

Brominated flame
retardants (BFR)

Disrupts endocrine system functions

Front panel of CRTs

Barium (Ba)

Short term exposure causes:

Muscle weakness;

Damage to heart, liver and spleen.


Beryllium (Be)

Carcinogenic (lung cancer)

Inhalation of fumes and dust. Causes chronic
beryllium disease or beryllicosis.

diseases such as warts.

A set. of interrelated and mutually supportive strategies are proposed to support the concrete
implementation of the activities as indicated in the website
) is described below:

To involve experts in designing communication tools for creating awareness at the highest level to
promote the aims of the Basel Declaration on environmentally sound management and the
on and implementation of the Basel Convention, its amendments and protocol with the
emphasis on the short
term activities.

To engage and stimulate a group of interested parties to assist the secretariat in exploring fund
raising strategies including the pr
eparation of projects and in making full use of expertise in non
governmental organizations and other institutions in joint projects.

To motivate selective partners among various stakeholders to bring added value to making progress
in the short

To di
sseminate and make information easily accessible through the internet and other electronic
and printed materials on the transfer of know
how, in particular through Basel Convention Regional
Centers (BCRCs).

To undertake periodic review of activities in rel
ation to the agreed indicators;

To collaborate with existing institutions and programmes to promote better use of cleaner
technology and its transfer, methodology, economic instruments or policy to facilitate or support
building for the environmen
tally sound management of hazardous and other wastes.

The Basel Convention brought about a respite to the transboundary movement of hazardous waste.
India and other countries have ratified the convention. However United States (US) is not a party to
the ba
n and is responsible for disposing hazardous waste, such as, e
waste to Asian countries even
today. Developed countries such as US should enforce stricter legislations in their own country for
the prevention of this horrifying act.

In the European Union wh
ere the annual quantity of electronic waste is likely to double in the next
12 years, the European Parliament recently passed legislation that will require manufacturers to take
back their electronic products when consumers discard them. This is called Ext
ended Producer
Responsibility. It also mandates a timetable for phasing out most toxic substances in electronic

Economic growth and Digital revolution:

The Indian economy has witnessed a significant growth over the last two decades. The
Information Technology (IT) sector has contributed significantly to this overall economic
growth and has been responsible for a major shift in the consumption patterns of the Indian
middle class, especially for consumer durables and household goods.

The di
gital revolution, which commenced in 1980, continues to the present day and has
transformed the way we live, work and communicate. There are a whole range of products,
which have become affordable and infiltrated homes and offices. There is also a change a
in the way these are utilized by consumers, as it is now easier and more convenient to
replace than to repair these products. Figures, as illustrated in table 1, indicate the constant
growth in sales volumes of some consumer electronics goods in India.

Table 1:

Sales figure for consumer electronics in India

The increasing affordability and availability of these products means a gradual penetration
into smaller towns which are now recording impressive sales of consumer electronics. The
desktop PC and
laptop/notebook sales have shown impressive growth in the smaller cities
and towns (Rest of India in Fig 1 & 2) in the last five years, accounting to 68% and 75% of the
total sales volume in 2008
09, compared to 45% and 25% in 2003
04. India, with around 5
million mobile users, is now the second largest market in the world after China, and in 2008
09 rural India outpaced urban India in mobile growth rate. According to data available with
the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 48 million rural consumer
s took a new mobile
connection in the first six months of calendar 2009 compared with just 32 million in the
cities, thus taking the mobile penetration in rural India to around 17%.

These figures do suggest that the penetration of consumer electronics li
ke computers and
mobile has deepened in the country but there is still very large untapped market potential
for these products. With the absolute penetration of these equipments still being very low,
the coming years will see further increase in sales as n
ew markets are explored and


quantities of E

The unprecedented growth of the consumer electronics market is revolutionary, as it has
brought knowledge and information at every one’s doorstep. The electronics manufacturing
, one of the largest and fastest growing in the world is also one of the most
innovative, constantly creating and utilizing new technologies and thereby inbuilt product
obsolescence. The result is that an ever increasing quantity of electronics and electri
appliances being discarded, as it is often cheaper to buy new than to repair or to upgrade a
broken or obsolete product. This has given rise to a new environmental challenge: Waste
from electrical and electronic equipment or "e

waste is one o
f the fastest growing waste streams today and is growing almost three
times the rate of municipal waste, globally. As per current estimates, the global e
market is forecasted to reach 53 million tonnes by 2012 from 42 million tonnes in 2008; thus
wing at a CAGR of 6 percent. India with population of over 1 billion, a growing economy
and increasing consumption is estimated to be generating approximately 4,00,000 tonnes of
waste annually (computers, mobile phone and television only) and is expected t
o grow at a
much higher rate of 10
15%. The main sources of electrical and electronic waste generation
in India are government institutions and business houses, accounting for around 70% of the
total waste, while contribution of individual household is rel
atively small. But with the
growth of middle class in the country and increasing disposable income, e
waste generation
from households is also set to increase. This huge generation of highly toxic waste poses
serious concerns as India is still struggling t
o find sustainable solution to this complex issue.

The illegal waste being dumped from developed countries further aggravates the E
situation in the country. India happens to be at the receiving end of the international waste
and reports suggest th
at large volumes of this toxic waste are brought in illegally into the
country. These are primarily being dumped into India for profit due to availability of cheap
labour and weak environmental laws. Some of the Export Promotion Zones are also proving
to b
e lucrative destination/ centers for such waste trade.

This illegally dumped waste from developed nations adds to the already mounting waste
pile from domestic sources. The country does not possess appropriate technology,
infrastructure or a supporting leg
al framework to manage this waste, thus making it highly
unsustainable and unsafe.

Waste Management

It is estimated that 75% of electronic items are stored due to uncertainty of how to manage it. These
electronic junks lie unattended in houses, offices,

warehouses etc. and normally mixed with
household wastes, which are finally disposed off at landfills. This necessitates implementable
management measures.

In industries management of e
waste should begin at the point of generation. This can be done by
ste minimization techniques and by sustainable product design. Waste minimization in industries
involves adopting:

inventory management,

process modification,

volume reduction,

recovery and reuse.

Inventory management

Proper control over the mat
erials used in the manufacturing process is an important way to reduce
waste generation (Freeman, 1989). By reducing both the quantity of hazardous materials used in the
process and the amount of excess raw materials in stock, the quantity of waste generat
ed can be
reduced. This can be done in two ways i.e. establishing material
purchase review and control
procedures and inventory tracking system.

Developing review procedures for all material purchased is the first step in establishing an inventory
nt program. Procedures should require that all materials be approved prior to purchase.
In the approval process all production materials are evaluated to examine if they contain hazardous
constituents and whether alternative non
hazardous materials are ava

Another inventory management procedure for waste reduction is to ensure that only the needed
quantity of a material is ordered. This will require the establishment of a strict inventory tracking
system. Purchase procedures must be implemented which

ensure that materials are ordered only on
an as
needed basis and that only the amount needed for a specific period of time is ordered.

process modification

Changes can be made in the production process, which will reduce waste generation. This
can be accomplished by changing the materials used to make the product or by the more efficient
use of input materials in the production process or both. Potential waste minimization techniques
can be broken down into three categories:

i) Improve
d operating and maintenance procedures,

ii) Material change and

equipment modification.

Improvements in the operation and maintenance of process equipment can result in significant
waste reduction. This can be accomplished by reviewing current
operational procedures or lack of
procedures and examination of the production process for ways to improve its efficiency. Instituting
standard operation procedures can optimise the use of raw materials in the production process and
reduce the potential fo
r materials to be lost through leaks and spills. A strict maintenance program,
which stresses corrective maintenance, can reduce waste generation caused by equipment failure.
An employee
training program is a key element of any waste reduction program. Tra
ining should
include correct operating and handling procedures, proper equipment use, recommended
maintenance and inspection schedules, correct process control specifications and proper
management of waste materials.

Hazardous materials used in either a pr
oduct formulation or a production process may be replaced
with a less hazardous or non
hazardous material. This is a very widely used technique and is
applicable to most manufacturing processes. Implementation of this waste
reduction technique may

only some minor process adjustments or it may require extensive new process equipment.
For example, a circuit board manufacturer can replace solvent
based product with water
based flux
and simultaneously replace solventvapor degreaser with detergent parts


Installing more efficient process equipment or modifying existing equipment to take advantage of
better production techniques can significantly reduce waste generation. New or updated equipment
can use process materials more efficiently producing
less waste. Additionally such efficiency reduces
the number of rejected or off
specification products, thereby reducing the amount of material which
has to be reworked or disposed of. Modifying existing process equipment can be a very cost
effective method

of reducing waste generation. In many cases the modification can just be relatively
simple changes in the way the materials are handled within the process to ensure that they are not
wasted. For example, in many electronic manufacturing operations, which
involve coating a product,
such as electroplating or painting, chemicals are used to strip off coating from rejected products so
that they can be recoated. These chemicals, which can include acids, caustics, cyanides etc are often
a hazardous waste and mus
t be properly managed. By reducing the number of parts that have to be
reworked, the quantity of waste can be significantly reduced.

Volume reduction

Volume reduction includes those techniques that remove the hazardous portion of a waste from a
us portion. These techniques are usually to reduce the volume, and thus the cost of
disposing of a waste material. The techniques that can be used to reduce waste
stream volume can
be divided into 2 general categories: source segregation and waste concentr
ation. Segregation of
wastes is in many cases a simple and economical technique for waste reduction. Wastes containing
different types of metals can be treated separately so that the metal value in the sludge can be
recovered. Concentration of a waste stre
am may increase the likelihood that the material can be
recycled or reused. Methods include gravity and vacuum filtration, ultra filtration, reverse osmosis,
freeze vaporization etc.

For example, an electronic component manufacturer can use compaction equi
pments to reduce
volume of waste cathode ray

Recovery and reuse

This technique could eliminate waste disposal costs, reduce raw material costs and provide income
from a salable waste. Waste can be recovered on
site, or at an off
site recovery facilit
y, or through
inter industry exchange. A number of physical and chemical techniques are available to reclaim a
waste material such as reverse osmosis, electrolysis, condensation, electrolytic recovery, filtration,
centrifugation etc. For example, a printed
circuit board manufacturer can use electrolytic recovery
to reclaim metals from copper and tin
lead plating bath.

However recycling of hazardous products has little environmental benefit if it simply moves the
hazards into secondary products that eventual
ly have to be disposed of. Unless the goal is to
redesign the product to use non
hazardous materials, such recycling is a false solution.

Sustainable product design

Minimization of hazardous wastes should be at product design stage itself keeping in mind t
following factors*

Rethink the product design:

Efforts should be made to design a product with fewer amounts
of hazardous materials. For example, the efforts to reduce material use are reflected in some new
computer designs that are flatter, lighter and more integrated. Other companies propose central
networks similar to the telephone system.

Use of renewable materials and energy:

based plastics are plastics made with plant
based chemicals or plant
produced polymers rather than from petro
chemicals. Bio
based toners,
glues and inks are used mor
e frequently. Solar computers also exist but they are currently very

Use of non
renewable materials that are safer:
Because many of the materials used
are non
renewable, designers could ensure the product is built for re
use, repair and/or
deability. Some computer manufacturers such as Dell and Gateway lease out their products
thereby ensuring they get them back to further upgrade and lease out again.

* http://www.svtc.org/ cIeancclDubs/savno.htm)


While the world is mar
veling at the technological revolution, countries like India are facing an
imminent danger. E
waste of developed countries, such as the US, dispose their wastes to India and
other Asian countries. A recent investigation revealed that much of the electronic
s turned over for
recycling in the United States ends up in Asia, where they are either disposed of or recycled with
little or no regard for environmental or worker health and safety. Major reasons for exports are
cheap labour and lack of environmental and

occupational standards in Asia and in this way the toxic
effluent of the developed nations 'would flood towards the world's poorest nations. The magnitude
of these problems is yet to be documented. However, groups like Toxic Links India are already
g on collating data that could be a step towards controlling this hazardous trade.

It is imperative that developing countries and India in particular wake up to the monopoly of the
developed countries and set up appropriate management measures to prevent t
he hazards and
mishaps due to mismanagement of e


Considering the severity of the problem, it is imperative that certain management options be
adopted to handle the bulk e
wastes. Following are some of the management options
suggested for
the government, industries and the public.

Responsibilities of the Government

(i) Governments should set up regulatory agencies in each district, which are vested with the
responsibility of co
ordinating and consolidating the regulatory funct
ions of the various government
authorities regarding hazardous substances.

(ii) Governments should be responsible for providing an adequate system of laws, controls and
administrative procedures for hazardous waste management (Third World Network. 1991). E
laws concerning e
waste disposal be reviewed and revamped. A comprehensive law that provides e
waste regulation and management and proper disposal of hazardous wastes is required. Such a law
should empower the agency to control, supervise and regul
ate the relevant activities of government

Under this law, the agency concerned should

Collect basic information on the materials from manufacturers, processors and importers and to
maintain an inventory of these materials. The information shou
ld include toxicity and potential
harmful effects.

Identify potentially harmful substances and require the industry to test them for adverse health and
environmental effects.

Control risks from manufacture, processing, distribution, use and disposal of ele
ctronic wastes.

Encourage beneficial reuse of "e
waste" and encouraging business activities that use waste". Set up
programs so as to promote recycling among citizens and businesses.

Educate e
waste generators on reuse/recycling options

(iii) Governments m
ust encourage research into the development and standard of hazardous waste
management, environmental monitoring and the regulation of hazardous waste

(iv) Governments should enforce strict regulations against dumping e
waste in the country by
tsiders. Where the laws are flouted, stringent penalties must be imposed. In particular, custodial
sentences should be preferred to paltry fines, which these outsiders / foreign nationals can pay.

(v) Governments should enforce strict regulations and heavy

fines levied on industries, which do not
practice waste prevention and recovery in the production facilities.

(vi) Polluter pays principle and extended producer responsibility should be adopted.

(vii) Governments should encourage and support NGOs and othe
r organizations to involve actively in
solving the nation's e
waste problems.

(viii) Uncontrolled dumping is an unsatisfactory method for disposal of hazardous waste and should
be phased out.

(viii) Governments should explore opportunities to partner with
manufacturers and retailers to
provide recycling services.

Responsibility and Role of industries

1. Generators of wastes should take responsibility to determine the output characteristics of wastes
and if hazardous, should provide management options.

All personnel involved in handling e
waste in industries including those at the policy,
management, control and operational levels, should be properly qualified and trained. Companies
can adopt their own policies while handling

wastes. Some are given bel

Use label materials to assist in recycling (particularly plastics).

Standardize components for easy disassembly.

evaluate 'cheap products' use, make product cycle 'cheap' and so that it

has no inherent value that would encourage a recycling infrast

Create computer components and peripherals of biodegradable materials.

Utilize technology sharing particularly for manufacturing and de manufacturing.

Encourage / promote / require green procurement for corporate buyers.

Look at green packaging op

3. Companies can and should adopt waste minimization techniques, which will make a significant
reduction in the quantity of e
waste generated and thereby lessening the impact on the
environment. It is a "reverse production" system that designs infra
structure to recover and reuse
every material contained within e
wastes metals such as lead, copper, aluminum and gold, and
various plastics, glass and wire. Such a "closed loop" manufacturing and recovery system offers a
win situation for everyone, le
ss of the Earth will be mined for raw materials, and groundwater
will be protected, researchers explain.

4. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers should undertake the responsibility of recycling/disposal
of their own products.

5. Manufacturers of comp
uter monitors, television sets and other electronic devices containing
hazardous materials must be responsible for educating consumers and the general public regarding
the potential threat to public health and the environment posed by their products. At mi
nimum, all
computer monitors, television sets and other electronic devices containing hazardous materials
must be clearly labeled to identify environmental hazards and proper materials management.

Responsibilities of the Citizen

Waste prevention is perhaps

more preferred to any other waste management option including
recycling. Donating electronics for reuse extends the lives of valuable products and keeps them out
of the waste management system for a longer time. But care should be taken while donating suc
items i.e. the items should be in working condition.

Reuse, in addition to being an environmentally preferable alternative, also benefits society. By
donating used electronics, schools, non
profit organizations, and lower
income families can afford to
e equipment that they otherwise could not afford.

wastes should never be disposed with garbage and other household wastes. This should be
segregated at the site and sold or donated to various organizations.

While buying electronic products opt for those

are made with fewer toxic constituents

use recycled content

are energy efficient

are designed for easy upgrading or disassembly

utilize minimal packaging

offer leasing or take back options

have been certified by regulatory authorities. Customers shou

opt for upgrading their computers or other electronic items to the

latest versions rather than buying new equipments.

NGOs should adopt a participatory approach in management of e

The Innovative Approach

To the extent at the moment the best and the most innovative approach for the huge amount of e
waste in the world and particularly India
is to start entrepreneurship in managing e

Following the principle “BEST OUT OF WASTE”

The waste can be utterly
managed and
can borne out

amounts to us.

Cleaning and Earning is not at all a bad option.

Today we have enormous industries that recycle our plastic waste

Simple Example which can be given is the plastic bags that we use is taken to the industries where
is recycled in to plastic nuts. these are then converted into again to plastic bag of various
dimensions and thickness.

Business Opportunities growing in Recycling of Ewaste Management

The ever increasing quantity of e
waste creates serious environment
al and health problems,
and starting an e
waste business to recycle e
waste is a good green business opportunity.

Starting an e
waste business

entails four major considerations:

Licensing and Regulatory Concerns

Identifying sources of e

Sorting and Processing e

Disposal of processed e

Licensing and Regulatory Concerns for Starting an e
Waste Business

There is no comprehensive f
ederal legislation on e
waste. Many states have mandated e
recycling, but the nature of regulations varies from state to state. The e
waste entrepreneur needs a
good understanding about the relevant state legislation concerning e
waste, for the best
strategy for
success is to position the business as an option for businesses to comply with statutory obligations.

The first step toward starting an e
waste business is securing appropriate licenses. The e
business needs to complete the following reg
ulatory steps:

Registering the fictitious business name

at the Local County Office

Securing business privilege license from the local county or city office to star
t business operations

Certification for e
waste recycling, hazardous waste handling, and waste disposal from the city or
state public works department

Compliance with zonal regulations to establish the processing plant

Identifying Sources of e

The su
ccess of an e
waste business depends on availability of adequate quantities of e
waste to

The e
waste entrepreneur could tap e
waste from the following three major sources:

The Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive places

the responsibility of e
waste on the manufacturer, and most brands now either offer buy
back of old products at a fixed
price, or offer facility for customers to drop their waste free. Many major retail stores also offer such
drop off service for their cu
stomers. The e
waste entrepreneur could approach such manufacturers
and stores and offer to recycle the collected e

Offices and commercial establishments discarding computer accessories and peripherals constitute a
major source of e
waste. The e
te entrepreneur could reach out to recycle such e
waste. A good
security tool to wipe out files and personal information such as passwords from discarded
gadgets such as hard drives is both an essential tool of the trade and a method to persuade busin
houses to entrust e

Individual end
use consumers have the potential to contribute e
waste recycling in a big way. Most
customers are however either unaware of the perils of e
waste and throw out old televisions and
computers with common househol
d garbage, or do not know what to do with unused electrical and
electronic gadgets. The e
waste entrepreneur could reach out end users directly through clubs and
raise awareness. Since such sources are unlikely to pay for the recycling effort, the entrepre
could aim to collect high value e
waste that fetches maximum revenue when recycled

Hazards and Concerns:

The problems associated with electronic waste are now being recognized. E
waste is highly
complex to handle due to its composition. A computer con
tains highly toxic chemicals like
lead, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs), PVC and
phosphorus compounds. A television or a mobile phone is also loaded with many toxics
chemicals. Most of these materials are known to have serio
us human health concerns and
requires to be handled with extreme care in order to avoid any adverse impacts. This
warrants the need for appropriate technology for handling and disposal of these chemicals.
Though some of these materials are used in small qu
antities in each computer, the
aggregate volumes being recycled are significant and will have serious impacts on
environment and human health if not handled with due safeguards. Many developed
countries practice very stringent norms for recycling these pro
ducts to avoid these

While India generates this huge volume of waste, almost 90% of the available E
continues to be recycled in the informal sector, in the by
lanes of cities and towns. Many of
the processes are rudimentary in nature and can be classified as dangerous an
d toxic. Some
of the processes involve burning or direct heating, use of acid baths, mercury amalgamation
and other chemical processes to recover materials. These result in the release of toxic
materials into the environment through emissions or effluents.

The recycling centers are
also slowly and gradually shifting as we witness growth of many such centers in smaller
towns, thus raising concerns of dispersed contamination. Some of the more toxic and
dangerous practices are gradually and increasingly moving

to smaller towns to avoid
scrutiny by the regulators.

Most workers engaged in these recycling operations are the urban poor and unaware of the
hazards associated with it. Traditionally the urban poor have engaged with the trade of
waste and recycling, one

of the most polluting and unsafe livelihood opportunities for
survival. While traders, who only engage in trading such waste make around 10 to 15%
profit, the worker earns a meager 150 to 200 rupees per day and is exposed to the hazards
of the processes.

waste also contains precious metals and many rare materials, which are highly valuable,.
The recycling operation especially the process of material recovery being rudimentary,
results in very low recovery of materials and non
recovery of many rare elemen
ts. This loss
is significant, making the whole process highly inefficient.

Some of the impacts of the current informal sector recycling are

Release of toxins into environment

Loss of natural resources due to low recovery of materials

Health impact to worke

Loss of revenue to state

Disproportionate sharing of profits

The inadequate capacity for recycling this huge quantity of toxic waste, resulting in loss of
natural resource and release of toxins into environment, is the real challenge for sustainable
duction and consumption in the country today. These can be only mitigated through a
cycle Approach. Lifecycle thinking is essential and goes much beyond the traditional
focus on production and manufacturing processes.

Upstream innovation and solutions

Application of a Lifecycle approach to environmental management is recognized as the most
effective tool for sustainable products. A product can be evaluated for each of the stages of
its life and can be optimized for eco efficiency. The Lifecycle approa
ch and design for
environment would permit bridging the technological divide between production and
recycling. Looking at the complete lifecycle helps in reducing waste at every stage of the
product, reducing toxics load on the environment and enhancing it
s recycling potential.

The electronic industry needs to incorporate the principles of Design for Environment (DfE)
in attempting to address the optimization of mass of the product, energy usage and
recycling potential. The essential requirement for the dis
posal to be conceived in tandem at
product design stage would ensure its higher recycling potential. This also helps bridge the
technology gap between manufacturing and disposal, improving the recycling potential of
the product and hence optimizing resourc
e utilization. DfE also addresses the issue of the
mass of the products and producers constantly strive to reduce the size while enhancing
product efficiency. Good examples of such concepts in design are the new generation
laptops, radios and mobile phones

which result in reducing the total material consumed in
the production process also minimization of waste generation at the end of life of the

Material substitution or use of less toxic materials in the manufacturing process also brings
down the
environmental footprint of the product. The European regulation
(Restriction On use of Hazardous Substances)

is one regulatory instrument which has been
an important driver in reducing toxics in electronic products. This regulation aims at

reducing the use of Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Hexavalent chromium, PBB and
PBDE. It is important to learn from the European experience and incorporate the principles
of ROHS to the Indian context with the objective of reducing the use of toxic substances in

electronic products. Material substitution with less toxic substances helps in reducing
environmental load while improving recycling potential, thus also reducing the recycling

Downstream solutions:

Down stream solution would essentially attempt to

address technological issues of
recycling, a frame work of responsibility of stakeholders and setting up of a reverse supply
chain process.

Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR):

Extended Producers Responsibility is the most apt, accepted and recognized

framework for
finding solutions to the complex issue of product disposal and pollution prevention. It
implies that the responsibility of the producer extends beyond the post consumer stage of
the product. The producer through a series of actions will aim
to set up a reverse logistical
process for the products and ensure its environmentally safe recycling and disposal. Many
countries have adopted this framework in their policy and regulation to manage E
waste. It
will be prudent and appropriate to incorpora
te EPR framework for any regulation on E
waste in India. Both individual and collective responsibility of the producers is viable and

Responsibility of the producer to the end
life management brings in more commitment
and responsibility on par
t of producers for cleaner materials and production processes.

Reverse Supply Chain:

In the Indian context setting up of a robust and viable reverse supply chain for the E
stream is currently the biggest challenge. The existing informal sector with v
ery low
investment in infrastructure and ability for deep penetration provides a skeletal reverse
supply chain process in India. The sheer expanse and size of the country demands and
justifies a well
organized and regulated system to ensure that the materi
al flows to the best
technology centers for disposal. Closing the loop for the reverse supply chain and also
shortening its length is of critical importance.

It is also critical for linkages to be formed between the formal and informal sector in

the reverse supply chain process. The strength of the informal sector with its
capacity of deep penetration must be upgraded, managed and effectively utilized to build a
sound system. Previous experiences do suggest that competition between the informal a
formal sectors have been responsible for weakening the system leading to diversion of
materials in two separate channels. Thus it is essential to have an inclusive system, which
will not only encourage sound recycling technology in the formal recycling
facilities but will
also take advantage of the existing strengths of the informal recycling sector.

Formal recycling facilities would only be viable if material supply is assured through an
established system of reverse supply chain. EPR would ensure mater
ial availability for
recycling through manufacturers’ vast networks.

Recycling Infrastructure:

waste is gradually being viewed as an important resource due to the presence of some
precious and rare metals. Many entrepreneurs view this as a lucrative busi
ness opportunity
and have set up facilities with differential capacities to handle this waste. As per current
information in last four years more than ten recycling facilities in the organized sector have
emerged in the country, engaged in dismantling and
segregation of this complex waste.
These recycling facilities have been authorized by the respective Pollution Control Boards to
undertake specific processes based on their capacities. Availability of adequate number of
sound recycling infrastructure units

across the country will be critically important for safe
management of E
waste. The country, currently, has only one integrated facility with an
annual capacity of around 30000 tones of waste. Most units are only engaging in pre
processing of this waste a
nd then exporting some of the valuable E
waste abroad for
material recovery.

These recycling facilities are in various stages of infancy and need to grow, evolve and
establish best practices and standards in order to achieve sustainable E
waste management.

The existing recycling facilities also suffer from a serious lack of credibility making them less
attractive destination in channelising waste from the multi
national corporations. They are
currently handling only a small fraction of the total waste gener
ated in the country as they
compete with the informal sector in accessing and treatment of waste. The current situation
of low material availability in the formal sector is expected to change as these E
companies build credible reputation and brand v
alue aided by suitable regulation and
enhanced public awareness.

Resource recovery:

The production process of electrical and electronic products consume large volumes of
materials some of them precious and many rare. Excessive mining and consumption of som
of these elements leads to faster depletion of natural resources, also increasing the
environmental burden. Unsustainable production consumption processes could seriously
impact the reserves, hence the need to recycle these materials and plough them back

the supply chain process. Improving the recycling potential of these products coupled with
technology up
gradation for recycling will enhance the material recovery and also result in
conservation of energy.

Refurbishment and Reuse:

Another opportunit
y and tool for waste minimization in India would be reuse and
refurbishment. IT products are rendered surplus and waste as they become obsolete. These
products though obsolete and old for a particular consumer base have the potential of being
used by anoth
er set of consumers. The markets for such products have always existed in
India in semi
urban settings. These however, are quickly seeping into rural areas providing a
significant market size for these second
hand products. Refurbishment and reuse need to
thought through as a market strategy and implemented with due care so that the conflict
with trade of new products is minimized while achieving the goal of sustainability and waste

Legal Framework:

Currently E
waste in India is covered under the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling
and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008. The existing Hazardous Waste Rules was
primarily drawn up to address issues of waste generated in industrial processes and is
dequate to cover issues specific to E
waste. The Government, after prolonged
deliberation, issued a Guideline for safe management of E
waste in the country. The
guideline is a voluntary instrument and largely attempts to address the technological gap.
e the guideline was a welcome step, it did not provide the requisite drivers for changing
the ground situation. The voluntary nature of the guideline was a limiting factor as it failed
to provide a level playing field to brands and trigger significant acti

Stakeholders’ discussions suggested that a mandatory regulation specific to E
waste would
be the most desirable way forward. A core group comprising of Toxics Link, Green Peace,
Manufacturers Association Of Information Technology and GTZ took the lead

and drew up
draft Rules. These Rules broadly encompass the framework of Extended Producer’s
Responsibility and Restriction on use of Hazardous Substances. The draft Rules have since
been submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests who have commit
ted to
finalizing the rules expeditiously.


The IT industry has been an important driver in the growth of Indian economy and will
continue to be a very significant player. The Indian economy is expected to be one of the
fastest growing economies

of the world. The sheer size of the market and large consumer
base is expected to boost consumption patterns and result in generation of huge quantities
of waste. While this throws up a serious new challenge it also brings in new set of
opportunities not
only to manage this waste but also for innovation of cleaner and more
sustainable products. Waste minimization is a cardinal principle to be researched,
experimented and adopted for sustainability. These are possibilities not only for a solution
to local p
roblems, but are also applicable to global issues on E
waste. New revenue models
in the business of E
waste appear as interesting possibilities in the Indian context and could
perhaps be used as one of the many working solutions. The ideal mix of skilled l
abour from
the informal sector coupled with appropriate technology, perhaps can provide solutions for
sustainable E
waste practices.

The urgency for a larger policy and an enabling regulation to manage this waste are
important instruments, which would prov
ide important drivers for a safe and sustainable E
waste management practice. The concept of Extended Producer Responsibility is the most
appropriate framework to be discussed and slowly practiced. However, the challenge lies in
the implementation of this
framework and the regulatory process. The issues of governance
have always been a limiting factor in effective implementation of rules and it would be
utmost importance to embed necessary drivers for accountability, transparency and
sustainability into any

regulation or policies on waste.

Recycling of E

India [

] is gradually becoming a dumping ground for electronic waste (e
Toxics Link, a Delhi
based non
governmental organisation, claims India annually generates
$1.5 billion worth of e

A survey by IRG Systems, South Asia, reveals the total waste generated by obsolete or
down electronic and electrical equipment in India is around 1,46,180 tonnes per
year based on select EEE tracer items. This figure does not include waste from
electrical and
electronic equipment imports.

Experts say the IT sector in the country is the largest contributor to e
waste (over 30 per

with Bangalore alone generating an estimated 8,000 tonnes of e
waste annually

but is sluggish in implementing a clear cut e
waste management policy.

"Most IT companies in India show little interest in e
waste management as they fear it might
slow their growth," says V Krishnan, a scientist working with The Energy and Resources
itute, a non
profit working in the field of energy and environment.

Wilma Rodrigues, founder member, Saahas, a voluntary organisation working on issues
related to solid waste in Bangalore, says: "Barring a few MNCs like IBM, Intel and HP, there
are very fe
w IT companies in Bangalore who have a formal policy on where to recycle or
dispose their e
waste. Some of them donate obsolete PCs to educational institutions and do
not keep track of what happens to these after the end of the life

Bangalore house
s over 1,300 software companies, 36 hardware units, umpteen BPO firms
and churns out around 30,000 obsolete computers every year. However, the city is slowly
waking up to the issue. There are now at least three formal recyclers

Parisara, Ash
Recycler a
nd AER Recycler.

Parisara runs a recycling unit at Dobaspet industrial area, about 50 km from Bangalore
with a capacity of one
tonne per day and Ash Recyclers is said to have a similar capacity.

"We are planning to raise our capacity from the present one

tonne per day to two tons right
away and ten tonnes by next year for which we have sought approval," said P Parthasarthy,
a chemical engineer from IIT, Madras and founder of E

The company, however, is not able to utilise even its present one
ne per day capacity. Its
prominent clients are MNCs like IBM, HP, Lucent and Philips. E
Parisara is planning to open
units in other cities like Mumbai [

] and Chennai

as joint ventures with local

According to data accessed by Teri, the average life span of a PC has come down from 4.5
years in 1992 to two years in 2006. In India, the figure is said to be about three years. Over
30 per cent of PCs become obsol
ete every year.

The volume of obsolete PCs, which is just a part of e
waste, can be gauged if one takes into
consideration large organisations like TCS [
Get Quote

], Infosys [
Get Quote

] Technologies
and Wipro [
Get Quote

], which employ over 50,000 employ
ees each. Infosys does not
agree, though, that it contributes to a substantial amount of e

"As a corporate citizen, Infosys is committed to demonstrating a high standard of
environmental protection, sharing of best practices and provision of a safe
and healthy work
place. We have a sound Environmental Management System and is in the process of
establishing an Occupational Health and Safety Management System," an Infosys
spokesperson said.

Software services and R&D services provider MindTree Consultin
g [
Get Quote

] says it has
launched an organisation
wide e
waste awareness programme.

"We are in the process of articulating our own charter on e
waste management. As a

step, we have launched an organisation
wide awareness programme on e
waste and a
based feature on our intranet portal that provides information and builds sensitivity
among MindTree minds to contain and efficiently manage e
waste," said Subr
oto Bagchi, co
founder and COO of MindTree Consulting.

India's third largest software firm Wipro, recently accused by Greenpeace of neglecting e
waste management, claims it has initiated action to dispose e
waste through authorised

"Wipro recogni
ses the seriousness of the issue and has taken several actions in this regard.
We have taken a drive to educate our customers on upgrading their old equipment and
have an upgrade programme in place. Additionally, we have initiated actions to dispose e
e through authorised agencies," says Wipro vice
president (corporate business unit)
Anil K Jain.

According to Deepak Chari, GM, WeP Peripherals, "As a large IT hardware company, we are
extremely cautious about e
waste. We take back the old print heads and
cartridges and
recycle them in an eco
friendly manner by giving the entire waste to E

WeP Peripherals has also initiated efforts for the collection and disposal of e
waste in
collaboration with E
Parisara. Some companies have also started to tac
kle the growing
volume of obsolete computers by seeking to postpone obsolescence.

"Typically, we deploy our older IT assets to less processing
intensive areas such as Internet
browsing terminals in our offices and convert these into various training assets
," said V
Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD of Bangalore
based Aztecsoft.

Agrees Bagchi. "We make optimum use of our investment in hardware. On an average, our
PCs and servers serve us for a minimum period of 4 to 5 years. Of course, we upgrade them
if the situat
ion so warrants. The older PCs are sometimes put to use in less critical

How countries generally tackle e

About 80 per cent of e
waste generated in the US is exported to India, China and Pakistan.

Unorganised recycling and backyard scra
trading forms close to 100 per cent of total e
waste processing activity. About 25,000 workers are employed at scrap
yards in Delhi [

] alone where 10,000 to 20,000
tonnes of e
waste is handled every year. Computers
account for 25 per cent of it. Other e
waste scrap
yards exist in Meerut, Ferozabad,
Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai.

In the US, a bill that came into effect on July 1 this year has made the manufacturer, an
d not
the consumers or government, responsible for the costs of recycling e

In Japan [

], manufacturers are responsible for collection and recycling of obsolete
electronic equipment for which they charge a recycling fee from consumers while selling.

Taiwan, it's manufacturers who pay for the collection and recycling of e