Trashing up: India produces more e-waste than most of the world, says report

  • India generates about 2 million tonnes of e-waste annually.
  • Out of this only about half a million is recycled.
  • Maharashtra is the highest contributor to e-waste generated in India.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM-NEC) on the World Environment Day (5 June) this year published a report which ranked India among the top five countries generating e-waste. Despite government schemes such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the Smart City project, India continues to hold its position as one of the top e-waste generating countries.

The other countries high on the list are China, USA, Japan and Germany.

India generates about two million tonnes of e-waste per year and recycles about 438,085 tonnes annually. Maharastra is the largest contributor, accounting for 19.8% of the e-waste produced, but only recycles about 47,810 tonnes of that per year.

According to the study, here’s how the other states fare on the production and recycle scale. All figures are annual ones:

  • Tamil Nadu accounts for 13% and recycles about 52,425
  • Uttar Pradesh accounts for 10.1% and recycles about 86,130
  • West Bengal accounts for 9.8%
  • Delhi accounts for 9.5%
  • Karnataka accounts for 8.9 %
  • Gujarat accounts for 8.8%
  • Madhya Pradesh accounts for 7.6%

So, what exactly IS e-waste?

Discarded electronics like computers, motherboards, circuit chips, printed circuit boards, mobile phones, data storage devices, TVs, refrigerators, headphones, display screens etc...all come under the e-waste category.

Unsafe recycling and disposal of such e-waste emits chemicals and pollutants. High and prolonged exposure to these by-products can damage a person's nervous system, blood, kidneys and impair brain development. The pollutants can also cause respiratory disorders, skin diseases, bronchitis, lung cancer, heart, liver and spleen damage, says the report.

“The sad part is that a mere 5% of India's total e-waste gets recycled due to poor infrastructure, legislation and framework which lead to a waste of diminishing natural resources, irreparable damage of environment and health of the people working in the industry. Over 95% of e-waste generated is managed by the unorganised sector and scrap dealers in this market, dismantle the disposed of products instead of recycling it,” the report added.

The global e-waste is expected to increase upto 52.2 million tonnes or 6.8kg per individual by 2021 for 44.7 million tonnes reported in 2016. The net worth of all the e-waste present exceeds $61 billion as of 2016. This is more than the GDP of most of the countries in the world.
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