Author- Elisha Lakra, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Kalinga University, Nawa Raipur.

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A new period of development was inaugurated with the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Technology continued to advance, which aided in the advancement of human civilization. However, this advancement also had a detrimental impact that is one of the greatest threats to humanity. This problem, which affects both developed and developing nations, has become one of the most hotly contested issues among environmentalists. As a result of the rapid advancement of technology, the volume of electronic trash is increasing every day. To ponder: Have you ever wondered what we do with old gadgets when we buy a new one? When we look around in our surroundings we will be able to find a lot of electronic gadgets lying.

E-waste means “waste electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part or rejects from their manufacturing and repair process, which are intended to be discarded”.[1] It also means “electrical and electronic equipment, including solar photo-voltaic modules or panels or cells, whole or in part discarded as waste, as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment, and repair processes”.[2] E-waste has been construed in a variety of ways; there is no agreed-upon definition.

Wastes come in a wide range of types, including organic-metallic, bio-medical, radioactive, and municipal as well as household and organic wastes. The rapid change that is taking place in technology has led to an increase in the production of e-waste as every now and then electronic devices are changing with the trend and are rejected and discarded in large numbers. Rather we can say the upgradation of technology is increasing the rate of accumulation of e-waste more and more.

As there are two sides of the same coin, some are in favor of this as E-waste provides cheap raw materials. For this, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam commented that “With metal prices rising, recycling will help in sustaining our economy as it is much cheaper than extracting metals from its ore”.[3]

During the 1990s IT Industry in India experienced massive growth which intensified the problem of E-waste. It has been marked that about 65 cities and 10 states in India generate more than 60% and 70% of the waste respectively. Maharashtra is at the top followed by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab. When we talk about cities, Mumbai ranks first, Delhi in the second followed by Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Surat, and Nagpur. The toxic elements if released can cause major health issues, for example, neurological and endocrinal disorders or even cancer for a long term even inter-generational health problems.

In India, Schedule 3 of “The Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2003” addresses e-waste. In India, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) governs waste management and works together with the State Pollution Control Board which is set up in various states.

India became the fifth-largest producer of e-waste in the world in 2016 with a production of two million tonnes. The largest producer, Mumbai, was followed by Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata; just 5% of the waste was recycled in the formal sector; 95% was recycled in the informal sector.  The improper treatment of e-waste is largely due to the scrap merchants’ burning, leaching, and acid-dissolving trash disposal practices.

IT sector report by Radha Gopalan[4] said, “The rate of obsolescence of computers in India is 2% per week, i.e., in 50 weeks-time the value of the computer is effectively zero.” On the other hand, the U.S. has the fastest-growing municipal waste stream.[5]

Even if regulations have been put into place, there is still more that can be done to improve how e-waste is disposed of. India has to repair the very low percentage of e-waste that is being sent to secure recycling facilities since it poses a major threat to the environment. Although burning waste may seem like an easy way to dispose of trash, the release of harmful compounds has disastrous effects. Generally, landfills of e-waste take place but it is not a sustainable practice and in the present day sustainable practice is the need of the hour. One more factor is that their literacy rate for this issue is also very less.

There is a great impact of e-waste on the environment. E-Wastes contain hazardous substances like Cadmium in computer batteries, Lead and Cadmium in circuit boards, Mercury in switches and flat-screen monitors, and PVCs are also one of those toxic substances. The Cobalt radiation catastrophe in Delhi, which resulted in one death and six hospital admissions, has brought to light the grave problems caused by the inappropriate disposal of e-waste. Women and kids are particularly vulnerable to e-waste.

There has been an import of e-waste and India is one of the biggest dumping grounds of electronic wastes about which there have been reports that countries like Asia, Africa, and Latin America on the garb of “used goods” pass the hazardous wastes,[6] and hence to handle this government is taking actions through legislation.

In India, e-waste is just amassing and there are few solutions for the waste it produces. Due to the fact that they damage both the environment and civilization, people must properly dispose of this rubbish. Radioactive wastes require special handling because they remain active for a very long time. Therefore, waste management is a concern in the majority of rising countries.

There have been several legislations that have been handling e-wastes and have attempted to cut down the E-waste from 1984 to the recent 2022. The Environment Protection Act, 1984, which was passed in 1986, attempts to create an adequate protection system. The E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2022 provide that instead of private Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) the authorized recyclers collect a certain amount of trash, recycle it, and produce

Besides the stringent laws, rules, and regulations the protection of the environment in an eco-friendly manner is very important, and therefore, organizations should work accordingly and adopt ways that are sustainable. The Government should also enact regulatory bodies to ensure proper checks on the illegal handling of waste and ensure proper implementation by strict guidelines and inspection. Open burning, illicit dumping of e-waste, and restricting the areas of recycling must be curtailed to control the environment as well as health consequences. If e-waste is not handled properly it will end up killing a lot of people and serious health issues.

There is an urgent need to balance economic growth and the environment. The concept of Sustainable Development is a way that is to be focused on and should be fulfilled simultaneously without hampering each other. It is very necessary to sensitize people toward solving the issues of e-waste. It is very essential to educate at the grassroots level and people involved in this business like the stakeholders to handle the e-waste scientifically. That generation of e-waste cannot be stopped as the technology is growing day by day but it can be handled in a proper way. The policies involving the disposal of e-wastes should be of a cooperative nature rather than competitive nature.

The manufacture of one computer and monitor consumes 530 lbs. of fossil fuel, 48 lbs. of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water[7]. Keeping this in mind we should take steps carefully and try to follow some measures:

·         The foremost thing is that we can ourselves from being a victim of marketing giants by not continually upgrading the devices hence the consumption of e-waste can be reduced.

·         Maintaining the electronics can help to extend the life of the product.

·         The good working condition gadgets can be sold or can be donated.

·         Many companies offer products in exchange for the old products we can go for that option. 

·         Re-cycling the e-waste is also a good option as it creates jobs for recyclers and also creates new markets for products that are salvaged. It is more of a win-win situation as we can get the newest technology from the old and acting responsibly can help to keep the environment clear for the generations ahead.

[1]E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 (India) S.O. 1035(E) r3(1)(k).

[2]The E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2022, S.O. 360 (E) r 3(1).

[3] ‘E-waste causes concern’, The Hindu,  23 January, 2010.

[4] Radha Gopalan, “A Study on the Indian IT Sector”, (2002) <> accessed 19 April 2023.

[5]Electronics Takeback Coalition, July 24, 2013, <http: //> accessed 5 July 2023.

[6] Ayushi Sinha and Satya Vrat Yadav, ‘E-Waste in India : Who Gets the Trash?’ (2017) 133(7) CNLU <> accessed 6 July 2023.

[7] Health the planet, ‘Electronic Waste’ <> accessed 6 July 2023.

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