India, which has emerged as the world’s second largest mobile market, is also the fifth largest producer of e-waste, discarding roughly 18.5 lakh tonnes of electronic waste each year, a study says.
Telecom equipment alone accounts for 12 per cent of the e-waste, a joint study by Assocham-KPMG said.
Matter of concern
The rising levels of e-waste generation in India have been a matter of concern in recent years. With more than 100 crore mobile phones in circulation, nearly 25 per cent end up in e-waste annually, it said.
“India has surely emerged as the second largest mobile market with 1.03 billion subscribers, but also the fifth largest producer of e-waste in the world, discarding roughly 18.5 lakh metric tonnes of electronic waste each year, with telecom equipment alone accounting for 12 per cent of the e-waste,” the study said.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified e-waste management rules, 2016, in which producers are for the first time covered under extended producers’ responsibility (EPR).
Waste collection target
The rules prescribe a waste collection target of 30 per cent waste generated under EPR for the first two years, progressively going up to 70 per cent in the seventh year of the rule.
The rules prescribe stringent financial penalties for non-compliance. However, the study said the unorganised sector in India is estimated to handle around 95 per cent of the e-waste produced in the country. Given the huge user base and vast reach of telecom in India, it is practically difficult and expensive for the handset manufacturers to achieve the targets prescribed in the rules from first year, the study added.
“It is suggested that electronic waste collection targets are implemented in a phased manner with lower and practically achievable target limits. Also, detailed implementation procedures for collection of electronic waste from the market need to be followed,” the study said.