• Citing huge gaps in compliance of electronic waste-management rules, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recently ordered that scientific disposal of e-waste should be ensured as per rules. The direction has been issued to central and all state pollution control boards.


  • The Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 shows that consumers discarded 53.6 million tonnes worth of electronics in 2019 globally, up 20 percent in 5 years.
  • India generated 3.2 million tonnes of e-waste last year, ranking third after China (10.1 million tonnes) and the United States (6.9 million tonnes).
  • Following the current growth rate of e-waste, an ASSOCHAM-EY joint report, titled ‘Electronic Waste Management in India’ estimated India to generate 5 million tonnes by 2021.



  • The Negative Effects on Air


  • Contamination in the air occurs when e-waste is informally disposed by dismantling, shredding or melting the materials, releasing dust particles or toxins, such as dioxins, into the environment that cause air pollution and damage respiratory health.
  • E-waste of little value is often burned, but burning also serves a way to get valuable metal from electronics, like copper.
  • Chronic diseases and cancers are at a higher risk to occur when burning e-waste because it also releases fine particles, which can travel thousands of miles, creating numerous negative health risks to humans and animals.
  • The negative effects on air from informal e-waste recycling are most dangerous for those who handle this waste, but the pollution can extend thousands of miles away from recycling sites


  • The Negative Effects on Soil


      • When improper disposal of e-waste in regular landfills or in places where it is dumped illegally, both heavy metals and flame retardants can seep directly from the e-waste into the soil, causing contamination of underlying groundwater or contamination of crops that may be planted near by or in the area in the future.
      • When the soil is contaminated by heavy metals, the crops become vulnerable to absorbing these toxins, which can cause many illnesses and doesn’t allow the farmland to be as productive as possible.
      • When large particles are released from burning, shredding or dismantling e-waste, they quickly re-deposit to the ground and contaminate the soil as well, due to their size and weight.


  • The Negative Effects on Humans
  • Electronic waste contains toxic components that are dangerous to human health, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium and lithium.


    • The negative health effects of these toxins on humans include brain, heart, liver, kidney and skeletal system damage.
    • It can also considerably affect the nervous and reproductive systems of the human body, leading to disease and birth defects. 


  • The government has given the policy and mechanism in place to recycle E-waste.
  • As per CPCB’s information, there are a total of 312 authorized E-waste dismantlers or recyclers across 18 states. The overall capacity is to the tune of 7.82 lakh MTPA (Metric Tonnes per Annum).
  • The Government has also notified E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 , to ensure E-waste is managed effectively.


The key objectives of these rules include:


  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 in supersession of the E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011.


  • Over 21 products (Schedule-I) were included under the purview of the rule. It included Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury containing lamps, as well as other such equipment.
  • For the first time, the rules brought the producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), along with targets. Producers have been made responsible for the collection of E-waste and for its exchange.
  • Various producers can have a separate Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) and ensure collection of E-waste, as well as its disposal in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Deposit Refund Scheme has been introduced as an additional economic instrument wherein the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of the electrical and electronic equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.
  • The role of State Governments has been also introduced to ensure safety, health and skill development of the workers involved in dismantling and recycling operations.
  • A provision of penalty for violation of rules has also been introduced.
  • Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) have been assigned the duty to collect and channelize the orphan products to authorized dismantlers or recyclers.

Allocation of proper space to existing and upcoming industrial units for e-waste dismantling and recycling.

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