Start a E - Waste Recycling Business

(184). Start a E- waste Recycling Business
E-Waste in India To Rise 500% by 2020,It's an Emergency and a Big Business Opportunity
Last May, Pike Research estimated that e-waste going to our landfills would plateau by 2015 and begin to decline. That's great news since landfill is the last place we want our e-waste going. However, it has to go somewhere and the mountain of used gadgets, computers, televisions and other electronics just keeps growing. So where is it likely to end up? According to a new report from the United Nations, it'll end up in developing countries. The report estimates a 500% growth over the next 10 years in computer waste in India alone. Now that is some frightening news. Not only is it scary news, but as CNET points out we are major culprits: "The report, co-authored by EMPA of Switzerland, specialty materials group Umicore and the United Nations University, said that the United States is the biggest producer of e-waste, creating around 3 million metric tons a year. Close behind is China, which produces around 2.3 million metric tons domestically and is where a lot of the developed world's e-waste is sent, EMPA said."

According to the report, not only will India see a 500% increase in e-waste, but China and South Africa will see a 400% increase from 2007 levels over the next ten years, with mobile phones being a significant component, rising seven times higher in China and 18 times higher in India. E-Waste from televisions will be 1.5 to 2 times higher in China and India, and e-waste from discarded refrigerators will double or triple in India.

Logical Solutions to Illogical Problems
The logical solution is to use what devices we have a lot longer, and to find value in reusing the materials from old electronics. For example, simple solutions to the problem of mobile phones: First, people in developed nations (ahem, US) need to keep a hold of their cell phones an appropriate amount of time - much longer than the incredibly brief 18 months we currently have them before upgrading. Currently over 150 million cell phones are sold every year in the US alone.

And second, when we do trade them in, if they're in working condition, they need to go straight to the millions of people in developing nations who have a need and hundreds of uses for mobile phones. If they're not in working condition, they get safely taken apart and the materials reused. As the report states, "Manufacturing mobile phones and personal computers consumes 3 per cent of the gold and silver mined worldwide each year; 13 per cent of the palladium and 15 per cent of cobalt."

Imagine the lower carbon footprint (carbon dixoide emissions from mining and production of precious metals for electronics is estimated to be about 0.1% of the global emissions), and lower environmental and human impact of just reusing many of those materials, rather than mining them. But of course the obvious solution is not always the easiest.

As the report states, "Developing vibrant national recycling schemes is complex and simply financing and transferring high tech equipment from developed countries [to developing countries where e-waste dumps are located] is unlikely to work."

Still there is nothing reasonable about e-waste levels like this, and rising, especially when it comes to mobile phones. And for the rest of the e-waste, there's little excuse for not disposing of it properly and reusing the majority of the materials. As the popular green phrase goes, there's no such thing as waste, just raw materials in the wrong place, and that's the case with used electronics; when thought of resourcefully, there's a market to be made out of the metals and plastics in recycled gadgets. The report advocates for transportation of some e-waste like batteries, circuit boards and other components to be moved from poorer countries to those equipped to properly recycle them.

It's an Emergency and a Business Opportunity
"This report gives new urgency to establishing ambitious, formal and regulated processes for collecting and managing e-waste via the setting up of large, efficient facilities in China," says UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP. "China is not alone in facing a serious challenge. India, Brazil, Mexico and others may also face rising environmental damage and health problems if e-waste recycling is left to the vagaries of the informal sector.

"In addition to curbing health problems, boosting developing country e-waste recycling rates can have the potential to generate decent employment, cut greenhouse gas emissions and recover a wide range of valuable metals including silver, gold, palladium, copper and indium - by acting now and planning forward many countries can turn an e-challenge into an e-opportunity," he added.


Because of potential harmful impact of e waste dumped in land fills on environment, many western countries have banned usage of land fills. Advancement of media and growing awareness of e waste amongst general public has also played a major part in many countries and prompted taking of firm step towards solving this menace. Most of the advanced countries have also taken steps towards holding manufacturers responsible for e waste disposal. In fact, one can find relevant legislations enacted for enforcement of such stringent steps by western countries. However, developing countries are found wanting in this regard. In reality, underdeveloped countries have become a dumping ground for e waste materials.

European countries have taken systematic steps towards handling disposal and recycling of e waste. There are several plants established for this particular purpose where large amount of electronic waste is recycled using best of technology. A new trend in recycling is reuse of these waste contents. Apart from these new technologies of screening, reuse and granulating, refining and conditioning are also important processes in recycling.

Mostly employed in traditional e waste disposal method, this process refers to converting all the e-waste fractions into reusable components. Secondary raw materials are also extracted from these waste contents. Manual dismantling signifies process of electronic items and tools being dismantled in an orderly sequence. Once dismantling is done, manual sorting of different e waste is completed in separate categories like metals, batteries, printed wiring boards, plastics, woods, cathode ray tubes, condensers, LCDs and cables etc. These different elements are then processed through refining and conditioning step.

The final stage is of final disposal. Here, major part of hard waste is deposited in a landfill with proper air and water emission systems in place. In most of the under developed and developing countries, one can find many waste pickers picking these waste contents. These picked waste materials are further recycled. 

While the world is marveling at the technological revolution, countries like India are facing an imminent danger. E-waste of developed countries, such as the US, dispose their wastes to India and other Asian countries. A recent investigation revealed that much of the electronics turned over for recycling in the United States ends up in Asia, where they are either disposed of or recycled with little or no regard for environmental or worker health and safety. Major reasons for exports are cheap labour and lack of environmental and occupational standards in Asia and in this way the toxic effluent of the developed nations 'would flood towards the world's poorest nations. The magnitude of these problems is yet to be documented. However, groups like Toxic Links India are already working on collating data that could be a step towards controlling this hazardous trade.
It is imperative that developing countries and India in particular wake up to the monopoly of the developed countries and set up appropriate management measures to prevent the hazards and mishaps due to mismanagement of e-wastes. 

India prepares strictest rules on disposing of e-waste

Electronic waste, popularly known as ‘e-waste’ can be defined as electronic equipments / products connects with power plug, batteries which have become obsolete due to:
advancement in technology
changes in fashion, style and status
nearing the end of their useful life.

Classification of e-waste :

E-waste encompasses ever growing range of obsolete electronic devices such as computers, servers, main frames, monitors, TVs & display devices, telecommunication devices such as cellular phones & pagers, calculators, audio and video devices, printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines besides refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and microwave ovens, e-waste also covers recording devices such as DVDs, CDs, floppies, tapes, printing cartridges, military electronic waste, automobile catalytic converters, electronic components such as chips, processors, mother boards, printed circuit boards, industrial electronics such as sensors, alarms, sirens, security devices, automobile electronic devices.

Indian Scenario :

There is an estimate that the total obsolete computers originating from government offices, business houses, industries and household is of the order of 2 million nos. Manufactures and assemblers in a single calendar year, estimated to produce around 1200 tons of electronic scrap. It should be noted that obsolence rate of personal computers (PC) is one in every two years. The consumers finds it convenient to buy a new computer rather than upgrade the old one due to the changing configuration, technology and the attractive offers of the manufacturers. Due to the lack of governmental legislations on e-waste, standards for disposal, proper mechanism for handling these toxic hi-tech products, mostly end up in landfills or partly recycled in a unhygienic conditions and partly thrown into waste streams. Computer waste is generated from the individual households; the government, public and private sectors; computer retailers; manufacturers; foreign embassies; secondary markets of old PCs. Of these, the biggest source of PC scrap are foreign countries that export huge computer waste in the form of reusable components.

Electronic waste or e-waste is one of the rapidly growing environmental problems of the world. In India, the electronic waste management assumes greater significance not only due to the generation of our own waste but also dumping ofe-waste particularly computer waste from the developed countries.

With extensively using computers and electronic equipments and people dumping old electronic goods for new ones, the amount ofE-Waste generated has been steadily increasing. At present Bangalore alone generates about 8000 tonnes of computer waste annually and in the absence of proper disposal, they find their way to scrap dealers.

E-Parisaraa, an eco-friendly recycling unit on the outskirts of Bangalore which is located in Dobaspet industrial area, about 45 Km north of Bangalore, makes full use ofE-Waste. The plant which is India’s first scientific e-waste recycling unit will reduce pollution, landfill waste and recover valuable metals, plastics & glass from waste in an eco-friendly manner. E-Parisaraa has developed a circuit to extend the life of tube lights. The circuit helps to extend the life of fluorescent tubes by more than 2000 hours. If the circuits are used, tube lights can work on lower voltages. The initiative is to aim at reducing the accumulation of used and discarded electronic and electrical equipments.

India as a developing country needs simpler, low cost technology keeping in view of maximum resource recovery in an environmental friendly methodologies. E-Parisaraa, deals with practical aspect ofe-waste processing as mentioned below by hand. Phosphor affects the display resolution and luminance of the images that is seen in the monitor.

E-Parisaraa’s Director Mr. P. Parthasarathy, an IIT Madras graduate, and a former consultant for a similar e-waste recycling unit in Singapore, has developed an eco-friendly methodology for reusing, recycling and recovery of metals, glass & plastics with non-incineration methods . The hazardous materials are segregated separately and send for secure land fill for ex.: phosphor coating, LED’s, mercury etc.

We have the technology to recycle most of the e-waste and only less than one per cent of this will be regarded as waste, which can go into secure landfill planned in the vicinity by the HAWA project.

India is close to finalising the world's strictest set of rules on disposing of electronic waste. The rules, framed by electronics equipment manufacturers with the help of NGOs, are now being given the final touch by the ministry of environment and forests.

Under the new 'E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules', each manufacturer of a computer, music system, mobile phone or any other electronic gadget will be "personally" responsible for the final safe disposal of the product when it becomes a piece of e-waste, said Guruswamy Ananthapadmanabhan, programme director of Greenpeace International.

This "personal" responsibility makes it the world's most stringent set of rules for e-waste disposal.
The NGO has worked with India's Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology (MAIT) to prepare the rules that have been submitted to the ministry. Eighteen electronic brands, including Nokia, Wipro, HCL, Acer and Sony Ericsson, have already begun implementing plans on toxic chemical phase-out and take-back of old end-of-life products in India.

Apart from Greenpeace, civil society group Toxicslink and Germany's external aid agency GTZ have worked with MAIT since April 2008 to draft the new set of rules, whose main objectives are:
  • To address the specific requirements for e-waste management;
  • To put in place an effective mechanism to regulate the generation, collection, storage, transportation, import and export of e-waste; and
  • To ensure environmentally sound recycling of e-waste.
"This includes establishment of a collection system, environmentally sound refurbishment and recycling, mandatory provisions for reduction in hazardous substances and producer responsibility," Ananthapadmanabhan told IANS.

"The proposed rules would provide enabling policies and procedures that would be legally binding for producers, collection agencies, dismantlers, recyclers, transporters, etc., handling e-waste."

According to a recent report of the UN Environment Programme, 20-50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated annually worldwide. In India, a 2008 estimate by the industry put it at 382,979 tonnes per year, which will go up to 1.6 million tonnes in the next three years.

E-waste now makes up five percent of all municipal solid waste worldwide, more or less the same amount as general plastic waste.

As India piles up more and more junk computers, IT peripherals, music systems and mobile phones, a highly dangerous informal industry in their reprocessing and recycling has sprung up, concentrated on the outskirts of Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.

Home-based recyclers burn wires and integrated chips over small flames to get at the copper and other metal inside, inhaling toxic fumes in the process. The trade has been banned, at least in Delhi, but continues behind closed doors.

The new rules propose to move this recycling to the formal sector. Asked what would happen to the current recyclers, estimated by NGOs to be around 35,000, Ananthapadmanabhan said a pilot project to integrate them into the formal recycling process was already on in Delhi's Shastri Nagar area, and this could be expanded.

The new rules take collection, storage and transportation of e-waste that are not hazardous out of the hazardous waste handling rules category. But dismantling and reprocessing of this waste is hazardous, stressed the Greenpeace official.

"The whole process of registration and authorisation under hazardous waste rule discourages people to go for effective e-waste management practices.

"Unlike hazardous waste, e-waste has high recycling and reuse potential which if done properly can reduce load at disposal and at the same time help in conservation of material through reuse of material in manufacturing," he added.

The new set of rules makes a producer of electronic and electrical equipment responsible for the entire lifecycle of its products including end-of-life phase. The producer has the first level of responsibility of proper collection and recycling of discarded electronic and electrical products of its own brands in environmentally sound manner.

It also holds dealers, retailers and consumers responsible for proper and effective collection and recycling of the electronic waste. It will be the consumer's responsibility now to return a discarded electronic product to the designated collection centre.

Dealers are responsible for proper handling and storage of the e-waste. Except consumers, everyone in the value chain, including producers, have to take permission from a designated authority for handling, collection, transport, dismantling and material recovery of the e-waste.

The new rules also provide for the phase-out of certain hazardous chemicals from the electronic products launched in the Indian market, Ananthapadmanabhan said.

The proposed rules put a complete ban on import of any kind of electronic and electrical equipment for dismantling, recycling and disposal purposes. "The equipment can only be imported for refurbishment and repair purposes with clear declaration of such purpose at originating country and with a condition that it will be exported back, meeting the purpose, to the original country," he said.
E-Waste Policy for India

In the backdrop of resurgent growth of the Indian economy and greater reliance on electronic hardware for household, industrial and office automation, commitment to eco-responsibility was seen as a sine qua non for the society, economy and the environment.

There was unanimity that electronic waste containing substances like lead, cadmium, mercury, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has immense potential to cause enormous harm to human health and environment, if not disposed properly since the extant prescriptions for its disposal and safeguard were inadequate.  Thus, the imperative need for early formulation of a holistic       E-waste legislation which will eventually lead to enabling policy.  It was consensually agreed that such a policy must appropriately reflect the concerns of various stakeholders besides views of practitioners in the field, both in the organized and the unorganized sector.

The deliberations in the Seminar highlighted the likely enormity in the magnitude of E-waste to be generated every year (approx 1,50,000 tonnes).  Issues relating to poor sensitisation about this sector, low organized recycling, cross-border flow of waste equipment into India, limited reach out and awareness regarding disposal, after determining end of useful life, and lack of coordination between various authorities responsible for E-waste management and disposal including the non-involvement of municipalities in E-waste management were discussed threadbare.  The emerging global trend of producer responsibility for disposal after useful life becoming the governing principle globally by the year 2008 and lack of steps in India in this regard were cited prominently during the deliberations.

Conscious of the prevalent uncertainties regarding “when, where, and how” to dispose hazardous, harmful E-waste, the role of informal sector in the process and the necessity of introducing a comprehensive framework early, ASSOCHAM affirms its commitment to assist the Government in carving out an inclusive E-waste management policy, as for meeting the need for finding an “India Unique Solution”, that strikes a visionary balance between precepts and praxis for sustainable management of E-waste, such a policy alone can bring the desired paradigm shift.

ASSOCHAM, in recognition of this urgent necessity of proper management of    E-waste in the country therefore recommends for consideration of the Government the following :

1.            Promulgate an all-embracing national E-waste Management law, and an all-encompassing policy thereunder, for substituting the existing Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2003, as the latter are not comprehensive enough to attain the aforesaid objectives. 

2.            Initiate the process for complete national level assessment, covering all the cities and all the sectors.  Such base line study must envelope inventories, existing technical and policy measures required for emergence of national E-waste policy/strategy and action plan for eco-friendly, economic E-waste management.  The study should also culminate in identifying potentially harmful substances and testing them for adverse health and environmental effects for suggesting precautionary measures.

3.            Create a public-private participatory forum of decision making, problem resolution in E-waste management.  This could be a Working Group comprising Regulatory Agencies, NGOs, Industry Associations, experts etc. to keep pace with the temporal and spatial changes in structure and content of E-waste.  This Working Group can be the feedback providing mechanism to the National Nodal Authority in the Government that will periodically review the existing rules, plans and strategies for E-waste management.

4.            ASSOCHAM as a Knowledge Chamber advocates creation of  knowledge data base on end of useful life determination, anticipating the risks, ways of preventing and protecting from likely  damage and safe and timely disposal of E-waste.  It accordingly urges the Government to promote Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities in schools, colleges, industry etc. to enhance the knowledge base on E-waste management using the PPP mode.

5.            Creation of data base on best global practices and failure analyses for development and deployment of efficacious E-waste management and disposal practices within the country.

6.            Device ways and means to encourage beneficial reuse/recycling of E-waste, catalyzing business activities that use E-waste.

7.            Formulate and regulate occupational health safety norms for the E-waste recycling, now mainly confined to the informal sector.

8.            Review the trade policy and exim classification codes to plug the loopholes often being misused for cross-border dumping of E-waste into India.

9.            Insist on stringent enforcement against wanton infringement of Basel convention and E-waste dumping by preferring incarceration over monetary penalties for demonstrating deterrent impact.

10.         Foster partnership with manufacturers and retailers for recycling services by creating an enabling environment so as dispose E-waste scientifically at economic costs.

11.         Mandate sustained capacity building for industrial E-waste handling for policy makers, managers, controllers and operators.  Enhance consumer awareness regarding the potential threat to public health and environment by electronic products, if not disposed properly. 

12.         Enforce labeling of all computer monitors, television sets and other household/industrial electronic devices for declaration of hazardous material contents with a view to identifying environmental hazards and ensuring proper material management and E-waste disposal.

13.         Announce incentives for growth of E-waste disposal agencies so that remediation of environmental damage, threats of irreversible loss and lack of scientific knowledge do not anymore pose hazards to human health and environment.  Simultaneously, as a proactive step, municipal bodies must be involved in the disposal of e-waste lest it becomes too late for their intervention, should large handling volumes necessitate it.

14.         Consider gradual introduction of enhanced producer responsibility into Indian process, practices and procedures so that preventive accountability gains preponderance  over polluter immunity.

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