A panel discussion on E-waste was organized at Abhyuday; Annual Social Festival of IIT Bombay. Sandip Chatterjee (Director and scientist, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India) and Deepali Sinha (Managing Director at Sofies India, Ex-consultant at UNEP) participated in debate whereas Nidhi Jamwal (Independent environmentalist and development journalist) moderated the discussions.

e waste panel discussion
From left, Dr Sandip Chatterjee, Dr Deepali Sinha, Nidhi Jamwal

Here is the summary of what was discussed;

  • Three types of items are recovered from e-waste; Metal, Plastic and metal and plastic embedded together. Gold, Silver, Palladium, Copper, Aluminium and Ferrous are major items that have been mostly recovered till date. – Sandip Chatterjee
  • Tamil Nadu has the highest recycling rate of 13% in India. Delhi’s waste recycling rate is 9.5%. The government has set an ambitious target of recycling e-waste for the informal sector. – Sandip Chatterjee
  • Fortunately, there is no big issue with collecting e-waste in India like western countries. The problem lies in the lack of recycling infrastructure and facilities. – Deepali Sinha
  • As of now, some environment-friendly people are extracting motherboards and circuits and sending them to foreign countries for recycling. – Sandip Chatterjee
  • I see opportunity in e-waste business. A whole new vertical is under development as far as future jobs are concerned. – Deepali Sinha
  • The business model of e-waste recycling is now profitable. We will see a rise in the coming years. – Deepali Sinha
  • People should be aware of the things like Right to Repair and Refurbishing. Countries like France have made it punishable by law to recycle an electronic product before its end of life. – Sandip Chatterjee
  • Continuing on refurbishing, I would like to share a wonderful website ifixit.com which has how-to tutorials about our day to day electronics related issues. We must develop a habit of giving a second thought before throwing electronic product and buying a new one. Refurbishing can not only save the generation of e-waste but also save your money. – Deepali Sinha

     By the end of 2018, India was expected to be generating 3 million tonnes of e-waste per annum. Our waste generation rate is 4.56 times more than our capacity to process or recycle this waste, and this is our biggest challenge.

    Collection of e-waste is a concern right now in the sense that the majority of it is collected by waste pickers, which then gets recycled in the informal sector under hazardous conditions. There is a need to bring formal and informal sector together, where informal can continue to collect such waste, but recycling is done at better facilities so that there is no environmental pollution or health costs of waste recycling.

    At the end of discussions, a question was asked about handy things to remember for youngsters to reduce e-waste generation and support its recycling. I would like to end this post by mentioning the collective response from Dr Chatterjee and Dr Sinha as follows;

  1. Try to repair electronic products on your own with the help of How-to tutorials. If it fixes the issue then good, if it doesn’t fix the issue, you don’t lose something big. It’s just a product.
  2. Don’t store electronic product if you don’t want it. Storing leads to ageing of electronic products.
  3. If you are giving your product for recycling, don’t ask for money to the recycling agent. They have already put a lot of finance to make this collection cycle work smooth. Your little scarification can support their efforts and accelerate the e-waste recycling market.
  4. Youngsters should literate people about e-waste. Awareness is a major task to be done. 100% Segregation of e-waste material from normal waste and its systematic collection would be the first big step.


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Note: Statements mentioned in this article may have been improvised and should not be interpreted as speaker’s words on as-is basis. This is not news article. This blog post is for information purpose only.