India’s ewaste report card


  • Severe health risks and environmental damage are “widespread” in India due to “very low” literacy levels of the country’s over one million people involved in manual e-waste recycling operations, warns a new UN report.

Highlights of the Report:

  • According to the ‘Global E-waste Monitor 2017’ report, India’s electronics industry is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and plays an “important role” in the domestic generation of e-waste, producing 2 metric tonnes (Mt) in 2016.
  • By 2016, the world generated 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste and only 20 per cent was recycled through appropriate channels, it said, adding that China was the top e-waste producer in the world, generating 7.2 Mt.
  • In the Southern and South-Eastern Asia region, India plays an important role in the domestic generation of e-waste (2 Mt in 2016) due to the large population, but the country also imports from developed countries.
  • India’s electronics industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, it said while noting that the formal e-waste recycling sector in India is currently being developed in major cities.
  • However, informal recycling operations have been in place for a long time, with over 1 million poor people in India involved in manual recycling operations. Most of these people have very low literacy levels with little awareness of the dangers of the operations.
  • “Severe health impacts and environmental damage are widespread in India, due to the final step of the e-waste processing by the informal sector,” it warned.
  • The report said that India has had the e-waste rules in effect since 2011.
  • “The rule mandates producers to be responsible for the collection and financing of systems according to the Extended Producer Responsibility concept,” it said.
  • Although 66 per cent of the world’s population is covered by e-waste legislation, more efforts must be made to enforce, implement, and encourage more countries to develop e-waste policies.


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