The Menace of E-wastes & Strictest Rules Ever

What is e-waste?
Electronic waste consists of loosely discarded, surplus, obsolete, broken, electrical or electronic devices. This includes all secondary computers, entertainment device electronics, mobile phones, and other items such as television sets and refrigerators, whether sold, donated, or discarded by their original owners.

Standard Definition
All kinds of used or semi used electrical devices discarded by the owners. This does not include the recycled or reusable or repairable & secondary scraps like copper, Nickel, Cadmium etc. The following is a standard definition by Basel Convention:

Any material that will be recycled or processed in order to reclaim a metal, or to reclaim an organic or inorganic substance for further use, is deemed a waste. Electronic components that are used without further processing are not likely to be defined as a waste.

Why it is harmful?
E-waste contains the toxic substances viz. lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, plastics, including PVC, BFRs, barium, beryllium, and carcinogens such as carbon black, phosphor and various heavy metals. This deadly mix can cause serious, even fatal, health problems for those who have to handle the waste (Cadmium is a strong carcinogen). In the absence of suitable techniques and protective measures, recycling e-waste can result in toxic emissions to the air, water and soil and pose a serious health and environmental hazard.

The volume of Danger:
As per a recent report of the UN Environment Programme, 20-50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated annually worldwide. In India, a 2008 estimate by the industry put it at 382,979 tonnes per year, which will go up to 1.6 million tonnes in the next three years. (source: IANS)

India & E-waste problem?
In India, e-waste is mainly generated in large cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. However with the expansion of IT even smaller cities a complex e-waste problem is also arising.

E-waste related laws in India:

  1. Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Amended Rules, 2003: These rules define hazardous waste as “any waste which by reason of any of its physical, chemical, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive characteristics causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment, whether alone or when on contact with other wastes or substances.
  2. DGFT (Exim policy 2002-07): Second hand personal computers (PCs)/laptops are not permitted for import under EPCG scheme under the provisions of para 5.1 of the Exim Policy, even for service providers. Second-hand photocopier machines, air conditioners, diesel generating sets, etc, can also not be imported under EPCG Scheme under the provisions of Para 5.1 of EXIM Policy even if these are less than ten years old.

What can be the stringiest set of rules to handle the menace of e-waste ?
Under the new ‘E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules’, each manufacturer of a computer, music system, mobile phone or any other electronic gadget will be “personally responsible” for the final safe disposal of the product when it becomes a piece of e-waste. This “personal” responsibility makes it the world’s most stringent set of rules for e-waste disposal.
What India is doing to handle the menace of E-waste?
Ministry of environment and forests, Government of India is giving the final touch to a set of rules , which are being referred to as the strictest rules ever to handle the problem of e-wastes. These rules have been framed by India’s Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT) with the help of various NGO’s active in the environment protection. The NGO’s include Greenpeace, civil society group Toxicslink and Germany’s external aid agency GTZ .

Major electrical brands like Nokia, Wipro, HCL, Acer and Sony Ericsson, have already begun implementing plans on toxic chemical phase-out and take-back of old end-of-life products in India.
What are the objectives of these rules?
Apart from addressing the specific requirements for e-waste management, these rules include to devise an effective mechanism to regulate the generation, collection, storage, transportation, import and export of e-waste to be able to achieve the objective of environmentally sound recycling of e-waste.
This includes:

  1. Establishment of a collection system,
  2. Environmentally sound refurbishment and recycling
  3. Mandatory provisions for reduction in hazardous substances
  4. Producer responsibility

In this way the new set of rules make a producer of electronic and electrical equipment ‘personnally’ responsible for the entire lifecycle of its products including end-of-life phase.

The producer has the first level of responsibility of proper collection and recycling of discarded electronic and electrical products of its own brands in environmentally sound manner.

Who else is included?
Dealers, retailers and consumers are also responsible for proper and effective collection and recycling of the electronic waste.

What is consumer’s responsibility ?
It will be the consumer’s responsibility to return a discarded electronic product to the designated collection centre.

What is dealers responsibility ?
Dealers are responsible for proper handling and storage of the e-waste.

Except consumers, everyone in the value chain, including producers, have to takepermission from a designated authority for handling, collection, transport, dismantling and material recovery of the e-waste.

with hints from IANS, ,
image credit : ÇP’s photostream on


  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

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  • Barkha Tamrakar

    too good