India recently made some swift changes to their electronic recycling programs that many other parts of the world should try and emulate. Many e-waste products contain dangerous chemicals and additives that can harm humans as well as the environment that they inhabit, such as arsenic in certain mobile phones and mercury in certain light bulbs.
E-waste is also a growing global problem, as nearly 50 million metric tons of e-waste was generated this past year, with that number expected to increase an additional 4% in the coming year. As such, India’s electronic recycling programs have taken the world by storm, and we will delve into what we can learn from those programs in this article.
Hope on the Horizon
India is the second most populated country in the world, with over 1.2 billion residents as of 2019. Moreover, due to rampant poverty and some questionable ethical decisions in the past, e-waste has become a serious problem in India, as well as many other developing nations. However, all hope is not lost, thanks in part to the dedicated work of waste pickers, India has made great strides in its electronics recycling initiatives.
In fact, India currently has one of the highest PET recycling rates in the entire world. That is, a recent study found that India reuses or recycles roughly 90% of all the PET that is fabricated in the country.
Waste pickers, as a result, are seen by many experts in the country to be the galvanizing or driving force for electronic waste recycling, as they are the ones who are primarily responsible for going through all of the garbage and manually pulling out salvageable components and such.
However, some ethical groups have argued that sorting through garbage and extracting recyclable materials by hand is not a safe or honorable way to make a living, and that changes need to be made so that the country can devise more efficient and ethical solutions to India’s growing e-waste conundrum.
Fortunately, India has made some significant strides in the last few years in regards to how the country handles its e-waste. For instance, India has recently passed new legislation that makes it mandatory for electronics to be recycled, which is something that other countries should enforce sooner rather than later.
However, some people have opted to only remove certain components from their electronics, while throwing away the rest. For instance, they may decide to extract the motherboard and certain other key internal components from, say, a laptop, while deciding to throw away the other remnants into the trash where it will be shipped and dumped into a landfill, rotting in perpetuity. Thus, amendments will need to be made to the recent legislation so that people will be incentivized to recycle their electronics completely instead of picking and choosing what parts they want to reuse.
It should also be mentioned that under EPR, producers will be required by law to set targets over the next three or four years in regards to the collection of e-waste. In fact, it can be argued that the norms have become more stringent in order to reflect India’s commitment to eco-friendly governance. The end result is that producers have been assigned the task of not only collecting e-waste, but also in dealing with its exchange.
However, some pundits have claimed that the commitment should go a step further. That is, the producers should be required to charge a recycling fee on all of the materials that they sell. Furthermore, people who are capable of reusing components ethically and properly should be involved in a licensing scheme, with such people or facilities receiving the deposit once the component is recycled.
It should also be noted that the recycling fee that the recycler receives should be higher than the value of the item that is being recycled. Otherwise, many fear that the recycler may be tempted to only partially recycle the components that they can actually derive a profit from and dump the rest in possibly unsafe and illegal ways.
Many countries around the world are currently having issues with building sustainable waste management programs. Fortunately, India has made great improvements in that area in recent years. For example, many waste pickers in the country work in clean facilities that are very hygienic and safe, such as the recycling plant situated in Bhopura.
Using the same example, only about 10% of their e-waste is sent to landfills, which is significantly less than the e-waste that is dumped into landfills in many other countries. Meanwhile, countries like Canada and the United States will ship much of their e-waste to poorer nations, many of which do not have regulatory agencies or ethical committees to help ensure that e-waste is disposed of in a safe, efficient, and legal manner.
Hence, India’s recent changes to its recycling programs will help reduce the need for landfills to handle garbage such as e-waste, and the only way to do so is to invest capital toward building more waste segregation and treatment facilities in India as well as many other countries.
The eCycle Difference
If you would like to learn more about India’s electronic recycling programs, or would like to be a part of the solution yourself, then please visit our website. eCycle is dedicated to a cleaner, safer, and all-round better world for today’s population as well as future generations. We are currently Canada’s largest and most reputable electronic recycling solutions company, and are strongly committed to reducing the amount of e-waste that ends up in landfills.
We also offer comprehensive recycling services for previously owned electronics and appliances, and we are also a proud R2 certified recycler in Canada. If you would like to learn more about our collection and logistics support programs or our state-of-the-art data destruction and online reporting services, then please give us a call at 888-945-2611 for a no obligation consultation.