E-waste Management in India | Procedure and Challenges

E-waste management in India has come under the limelight of environmental safety agencies because of the potential danger it poses to human life and the environment.

India is one of the largest producers of e-waste in the world, producing over 2 million tons of e-waste annually, the production of such a high volume of waste raises the problem of proper handling, disposal, and treatment of the waste, this article is targeted at exposing the procedure and challenges India faces in the management of e-waste.

Electronic waste, frequently known as e-garbage, alludes to out-of-date electrical and electronic contraptions.

Electronic waste incorporates utilized gadgets that are intended for repair, reuse, resale, rescue reusing through material recuperation, or removal. It includes smartphones, television, computers, printer, scanner, batteries, compact discs, etc.

e-waste management in India

In developing countries, casual electronic waste handling can have negative impacts and natural results. Central processors, for example, may contain potentially hazardous compounds such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, or brominated fire retardants.

Processing this component of the computer as e-waste could put its handler and those associated with the process health at risk, so health precautions must be observed in the processing of e-waste.

As indicated by a report given at the World Monetary Discussion 2018, India positions 177 out of 180 nations and is among the last five nations on the Ecological Execution Record 2018.

This was connected to the unfortunate state of its territories’ well-being because of little or no strategy execution in handling electronic waste and mortality levels brought about via high air contamination.

Likewise, after the US, China, Japan, and Germany. India is positioned fifth on the planet among the top e-waste producing nations, reusing under 2% of the total waste it makes yearly.

Starting around 2018, India has generated multiple million tons of e-waste each year and it imports a lot of e-waste from different nations across the world.

Jilting in open dumpsites is a prevalent occurrence, resulting in problems such as groundwater contamination, the spread of disease-causing microorganisms, and more.

According to the study of Electronic Waste Management in India by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and KPMG, computer equipment accounts for nearly 70% of e-waste, followed by telecommunication equipment phones (12%), electrical equipment (8%), and medical equipment (7%), with the remainder coming from ménagee-waste.

How E-Waste is Managed in India?

Whenever an electrical and electronic gadget becomes obsolete unable to perform the purpose why it was built, it is considered e-waste.

E-waste is created with valuable materials such as gold, platinum, copper, silver, rubber, glass, etc. which when recovered would be profitable both financially to the environment. Hence, the recycling procedure used in processing e-waste is very important if one is to reap the benefits of the recycling process.

Seelampur in Delhi is India’s largest e-waste disposal center. Adults and children spend 8-10 hours every day removing reusable pieces and valuable metals such as copper, gold, and other utilitarian parts from electronic devices.

E-waste recyclers employ processes such as open burning and corrosive siphoning as a method of treating e-waste.

This current method is grossly ineffective as most of the valuable materials present in the e-waste are destroyed and not recovered, this current practice can be addressed by practicing awareness and working on a reuse unit framework. A dumpsite presides the majority of the location e-waste collected in India.

Informal channels of e-waste management such as repair shops used item sellers, and online business merchants, collect a significant amount of discarded hardware for reuse and cannibalization into parts and pieces.

Also, the EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) is a major regulatory policy that was enacted in India in the year 2012 and later amended in 2016 and 2018 to manage e-waste, it is a globally used approach to tackling e-waste, this procedure places the responsibility on recycling e-waste on the producers rather than the government.

Read more about the EPR law written by Utsav Bhadra and Prajna Paramita Mishra in the Extended Producer Responsibility in India

This procedure ensures that the producers pay tax fees on the processing of e-waste, it ensures that producers set up sites for the collection of their e-waste and they conduct public sensitization to inform people about where they are located.

This regulation has held to the development of new demands and recycling centers and its emendation in 2016 ensured producers seat up in their responsibilities in waste management.

E-waste management in India employs four different steps in the management and recycling of e-waste. Firstly, the components used in the production of the electronic equipment are selected carefully to reduce the amount of e-waste generated, this step is called the inventory management step.

This is then followed by the production process management, here the product is optimized to have improved functionality and durability.

The third step is the volume reduction phase, here the source of harmful waste is managed by identifying the harmful parts of the equipment and then replacing them with that which is environmentally friendly.

Finally, Recovery and Reuse step is the final phase of the e-waste management step, here the e-waste is collected from society and then recycled for reuse hence preserving the environment and human health.

Challenges of E-waste Management in India

Some of the challenges experienced in e-waste management in India are as follows:

  • Personal attachment to e-waste
  • Neglect of the hazardous nature of e-waste
  • Lack of recycling facilities
  • Inadequate financial budget
  • Inadequate e-waste management regulation
  • Untrained e-waste personnel
  • Out-of-date techniques in managing e-waste
  • No e-waste reclaim program
  • Improper disposal of e-waste
  • Resistance in sourcing e-waste
  • Uncertainty in receiving profits from investment
  • Lack of data on financial wise strategies for recycling
  • Little information on the generation of e-waste
  • Unlawful importation of e-waste

1. Personal attachment to e-waste

One of the major challenges e-waste management companies in India face is their inability to extract e-waste from society. Most e-waste is kept indoors as the owners develop a personal attachment to their gadgets and would prefer to keep them achieved in their homes rather than dispose of them.

2. Neglect of the hazardous nature of e-waste

The glaring obliviousness of the hazardous nature of e-waste has been watered down by most developing countries that seek to transform them into useful products.

Both private investors and government agencies that focus on this sector take little precaution to its health implication exploring different avenues that can be seen as unsafe and crude reuse procedures of processing e-waste.

3. Lack of recycling facilities

There are few establishments focused on implementing the full standard procedures for the recycling of e-waste and e-waste management in India, most persons involved in this recycle e-waste through crude mechanisms such as burning them, dismantling them into smaller bits and pieces to sell which would hurt there health and they’d never recover the valuable materials within e-waste.

4. Inadequate financial budget

Lack of access to loans and grants from governmental and the private financial industries to fund effective e-waste recycling projects is a major problem for e-waste management in India, interested persons who want to engage in this sector find it difficult to implement their strategies in the target communities, hence e-waste recycling endeavors are frustrated and never grow.

5. Inadequate e-waste management regulations

The effectiveness of the EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) legislation in e-waste management in India has been limited because it has no provision to help producers with the responsibility of recycling.

Hence, the already struggling EPR implementation strategy due to poor recycling facilities never improves, EPR specifies procedures for recovery, dismantling, and recycling. Since these companies do not meet up to regulatory requirements personnel opt for bribes to cover up and permit the operation of such facilities.

6. Untrained e-waste personnel

Traditional workers that recycle e-waste are untrained on how to handle e-waste properly, hence they are exposed to the harmful effect it brings, research has shown that children are easy victims of lead poisoning, absorbing lead from their environment that goes on to affect their blood and nervous system.

E-waste management in India has suffered greatly because of this as most persons engaging in recycling activities are from poor backgrounds, hence not much effort and attention is given to safe practices

7. Out-of-date techniques in re-cycling E-waste

Primitive techniques employed in e-waste recycling are harmful to the environment, high levels of heavy metals have been observed to be present in the soil, dust, and underground water, this increases the soil toxicity, and these pollutants are known to escape the atmosphere because of their semi-volatile nature.

8. No E-waste reclaim Program

E-waste management in India suffers from its inability to recover e-waste from community landfills and homes as no proper strategy has been implemented to recover them. There are no commanded or compelled legislations and programs for e-waste recovery.

9. Improper disposal of e-waste

Dump area practices are environmentally hazardous. Regardless of progress in the traditional recycling of e-waste, proper e-waste management in India in the ethical areas remains extremely low.

The informal e-waste sector employs a large number of people, frequently working with the marginalized groups of society; nonetheless, the sector’s waste management practices pose serious environmental and health risks to both the environment and the general public.

10. Resistance in sourcing E-waste

The inability of private players, such as Geniuses, to set up e-waste facilities in traditional regions is limited by their inability to consistently access satisfying volumes of e-waste from surrounding communities that would make scale recycling profitable.

11. Uncertainty in receiving profits from investment

Employing feasible reuse inventions for e-waste may bear crucial upfront capital implications, which may not be convenient for private investors without any assurance of carrying an acceptable number of waste quantities to generate profit from their investment.

12. Lack of data on financial wise strategies for recycling

The withholding of data from waste industries causes lots of challenges. To begin with, given that waste recycling is a relatively young business and the volume of e-waste generated is increasing, the lack of data on financially wise recycling ideas limits investors from investing in this sector.

Hence, because of the lack of credible information, there is a low level of awareness of the operation of practitioners in this sector.

13. Little information on the generation of e-waste

Research documents that give credible information about the volume of inflow of e-waste into society have made it difficult to track the progress of e-waste management schemes.

The creation of schemes that would be effective in waste collection, transportation, and processing is hinged on analyzing the volume of e-waste generated both domestically and imported from foreign nations and the kind of e-waste prevalent in the environment.

14. Unlawful importation of e-waste

The rising volume of e-waste imported unlawfully is ever increasing. Handed-down merchandise shipped is seldom utilized. The worth of this huge volume of un-utilized e-waste is assessed to be somewhere in the range of 25 and 75 percent.

It has been observed that there is also a near-complete lack of implementation of current guidelines/regulations relating to the control of trans boundary generation of hazardous wastes and recyclables. Hence, this makes it difficult for recyclers to create effective strategies to tackle e-waste.

Importance of E-waste Management

Some importance of e-waste management include:

  • Preserve Natural Resources
  • Reduces Contaminant Greenhouse Gases
  • Protecting our Health
  • E-waste can be reused 
  • Reduce Expenses
  • Incorporate Wellbeing 

1. Preserve Natural Resources

Electronic devices are a rich source of essential natural elements. The fact that these devices are no longer functional does not rule out the possibility of repurposing the materials. Old hardware can be stripped of gold, aluminum, copper, and other raw materials and repurposed to create new ones.

The prospect of increasing e-waste reuse is excellent, as approximately 10% to 15% of the gold in e-waste is recovered globally. The ability to obtain and reuse materials from e-waste reduces the need to mine them from the Earth.

This keeps ordinary assets in check all across the planet. The Assembled Countries discovered that valuable metal stores in electronic waste are 40 to 100 times more lavish than those found in earth minerals. Reusing important metals not only monitors the world’s treasures but is also more productive in this way.

2. Reduces Contaminant Greenhouse Gases

Electronic devices also contain dangerous elements such as cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and the list goes on. They can also be made of other heavy metals, as well as potentially dangerous synthetics, comparable to fire retardants.

E-waste should be utilized responsibly at a rescue junkyard to prevent these toxins from being released into the environment, these toxins can affect the ozone layer posing danger to the world’s climate.

Reusing e-waste reduces substance emissions both during the disposal process and throughout the manufacturing process. When businesses employ recycled materials to create new things, they use less energy than if they used spic and span materials.

This means fewer ozone-depleting chemicals are released into the atmosphere.

3. Protecting Our Health

E-waste contains hazardous compounds and substances which can contaminate the climate countries like China and the United State suffer from this, it at any point can likewise cause harm to individuals living nearby also.

Indeed, high measures of these substances can be unsafe on the off chance would advance into our water, soil, or air. E-cycling keeps these unsafe substances out of landfills, waste disposal areas, and incinerators.

4. E-waste can be reused

Electronic devices that have been discarded can also be kept out of landfills if they are repaired, reused, and donated to a good cause.

A quick Google search will turn up a list of organizations in many areas that refurbish outdated hardware and distribute it to people who would otherwise go without it. “Reuse” is an important aspect of keeping materials out of landfills.

6. Reduce Expenses

Reusing e-waste is not only good for the environment but is also good for businesses. Most countries have increased e-waste reuse by raising or finally prohibiting the expense of disposal.

Many manufacturers are focusing on reuse and cleaning methods to aid the environment and their businesses. It lowers business costs while also helping to boost employee morale.

7. Incorporate Wellbeing

Your e-waste, like cell phones and tablets, may contain sensitive information that you don’t want to share with others. Many people are unaware that when they dispose of e-waste, they are exposing themselves to dangers.

Many people believe that “removing” their critical information from the device is sufficient, however, this is not the case. They must realize that removing vital information is insufficient. Therefore, you should reuse your e-waste rather than dispose of it in landfills.


Effective E-waste management strategies and legislation need to be implemented as soon as possible to stop emerging environmental problems caused by improper disposal of e-waste, also public enlightenment programs need to be engaged to sensitize communities on the need to properly dispose of e-waste and the dangers of handling e-waste without observing proper safety measures.

E-waste Management in India – FAQs

Which state is the largest e-waste producer in India?

In India, the western region produces the greatest e-waste, accounting for 35 percent of the country's total e-waste. South India generates 30% of the country's electronic waste, whereas northern and eastern India contribute 21% and 14%, respectively.

Maharashtra is the state with the most electronic waste, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, and Karnataka. Mumbai, the country's financial hub, constantly produces the most e-waste, at 96,000 metric tons (MT).

A significant portion of Mumbai's e-waste can be attributed to local banks and corporations that turn down their computer and media transmission equipment on occasion. In the meantime, Delhi and the Public Capital Locale produce 85,000 tons, which is expected to increase to 1,50,000 tons by 2020 in Delhi alone.

How much e-waste is imported to India?

India has the second-largest population in the world and akin to its large population is its e-waste generation, India is the largest producer of e-waste in the world after China and the United States, producing about 1,014,961.2 tonnes of e-waste in the space of one year (2019 - 2020) according to a Central Population Control Board report.

How many e-waste management companies are in India?

The state governments have accredited 178 registered e-waste recyclers to treat e-waste in India. However, many e-waste recyclers in India aren't recycling garbage at all. According to a report from the Union Environment Ministry, some are storing it in hazardous conditions, while others cannot handle such garbage.

Examples of e-waste management companies in India are Attero, Adatte e-waste management, E Incarnation Recycling, Cerebra Integration Technology, ECS Environment, ECOBIRDD Recycling, ECO RECO, Z Enviro Industries, Virogreen, RE TECK.


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