Despite being the only country in the South Asian region with e-waste legislation, India only recycles about 1.5% of the total e-waste that it generates every year.

The E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 define e-waste as electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes. Some examples of e-waste include discarded computer monitors, motherboards, mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, television sets, air conditioners, refrigerators, radio sets, kitchen appliances, etc.
According to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020, 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste was generated worldwide in 2019. This was up by 21% in just five years. Another worrying statistic was that out of the total waste, only 17.4% was being recycled.
This meant that gold, platinum and other high-value recoverable critical raw materials (cobalt,
palladium, indium, germanium, bismuth, and antimony), worth US $57 billion, would be dumped or burned. The scenario in India was that, out of the 3.2 million metric tonnes of e-waste generated every year, only about 1.5% is recycled.
Satish Sinha, domain expert and associate director at Delhi-based policy advocacy group, Toxics Link says, “India needs to view e-waste as a precious and strategic resource since it contains 69 elements from the periodic table and some of these are highly precious and strategic in nature.”
On e-waste management in India, he cited implementation and compliance deficits as the major issues. He also raised concerns over several inadequacies in regulatory mechanism and the ground realities which need to be plugged.
A UN report on e-waste management in India also said that enforcing rules remains a challenge, along with other aspects, the lack of proper collection and logistics infrastructure, limited awareness of consumers on the hazards of improper disposal of e-waste, the lack of standards for collection, dismantling of e-waste and treatment of it, and an inefficient and tedious reporting process being some of them.

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