(Sansad TV: Perspective)
Dec 13: Electronic Waste Management – https://youtu.be/wsNtsH7jHz0
- GS-2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- GS 3 – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Electronic Waste Management
Context: Electrical and electronic equipments have become an essential part of everyday life. Its availability and widespread use have enabled much of the global population to benefit from higher standards of living. However, the way in which we produce, consume, and dispose of e-waste is unsustainable.
According to Global E-waste Monitor 2020, the world generated a striking 53.6 Mt of e-waste in 2019 which is an average of 7.3 kg per capita.
- The growing amount of e-waste is mainly fueled by higher consumption rates of Electronic equipments, short life cycles, and few repair options.
- Since 2014, the number of countries that have adopted a national e-waste policy, legislation or regulation has increased from 61 to 78.
- Around 12.9 million women are working in informal waste sector expose themselves to toxic e-waste (like Nickel, lead and Mercury) and put them and their unborn children at risk.
- Children exposed to e waste are particularly vulnerable to the toxic chemicals they contain due to their smaller size, less developed organs and rapid rate of growth and Development.
- India is the third largest electronic waste generator after China and USA.
- In 2016 India enacted E waste (Management) Rules under which e Waste is categorised under two broad categories: Information technology and Telecommunications equipment and consumer electrical and electronic.
- E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances such as mercury, brominated flame retardants (BFR), CFCs and HCFCs.
- The increasing levels of e-waste, low collection rates, and non-environmentally sound disposal and treatment of this waste stream pose significant risks to the environment and to human health.
- Improper management of e-waste also contributes to global warming.
The Way Forward
- Governments should set up regulatory agencies in each district, which are vested with the responsibility of co-ordinating and consolidating the regulatory functions of the various government authorities regarding hazardous substances
- Governments must encourage research into the development and standard of hazardous waste management, environmental monitoring and the regulation of hazardous waste-disposal.
- Governments should enforce strict regulations and heavy fines levied on industries, which do not practice waste prevention and recovery in the production facilities.
- Polluter pays principle and extended producer responsibility should be adopted.
- Governments should encourage and support NGOs and other organizations to involve actively in solving the nation’s e-waste problems.
- 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 and should adopt waste minimization techniques (“reverse production” system) that designs infrastructure to recover and reuse every material contained within e-wastes metals
Citizens: While buying electronic products opt for those that:
- are made with fewer toxic constituents
- use recycled content and are energy efficient
- are designed for easy upgrading or disassembly
- utilize minimal packaging and offer leasing or take back options
- have been certified by regulatory authorities
Can you answer the following question?
- What are the sustainable strategies to address the problem of e-waste? Discuss.
- Is India a signatory to the Basel Convention? What are the fundamental aims of the Basel Convention and in light of the recent spell of ‘climate change’, how can developed countries be torchbearers of good e-waste management skills?