From the Viewsroom

Tackling e-waste from smartphones

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 15, 2018

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Digital India must give e-waste management serious thought

A new study from IIM Bangalore and research firm Counterpoint Research suggest that India might consume $80 billion worth of mobile phone components over the next five years. India has the second largest smartphone market in the world, in terms of users. In just about five years, the country will have over 50 crore smartphone users. Further, the number of locally made mobile phones went up from 14 per cent in 2014 to 67 per cent in 2016. This could hit 95 per cent by 2020.

All that’s good news. But the bad news is this surge in the production of smartphones, which die and get replaced faster than, say, personal computers or other perishable electronic goods, poses huge challenges to the country’s e-waste recycling agencies. Estimates of electronic waste being produced in India every year range between eight to 17 lakh tonnes. This is increasing 5-8 per cent every year. India is also a dump yard of e-waste from developed markets.

A report says India has barely 150-200 facilities to recycle e-waste, which can address only 40-50 of the e-waste generated every year. The E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 and the new E-waste (Management) Rules 2016 feature creative regulations to tackle e-waste, but the surging pile of unattended e-waste shows the reality is very grim and companies are putting the gaps in rules to hoodwink the system.

There are three ways to tackle this problem. The first is to hold producers responsible for recycling their goods.

Second, consumers should be encouraged via monetary benefits to recycle their gadgets. The Government can help build links between gadget makers, retailers (especially online sellers with efficient last mile connectivity), consumers and repair centres to ensure proper collection and management of gadgets. The third and the most important measure is to embed e-waste management into the DNA of the Digital India mission. If India wants to build a digital infrastructure linking its billion-plus populace, it must make sure the process does not choke its environment.

Deputy Editor

Published on November 22, 2016

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