Electronic Waste and Sustainable Development Goals: What it means for Businesses in India

We all use different types of electrical and electronic appliances (EEA) like mobile phones, computers, air conditioners etc. at our homes and work places. Worldwide consumption of such EEA lately has been fueled by factors like growth of internet, technological advances, continued growth of services sector, rising disposable incomes, changing consumer preferences and decreasing lifespan of consumer electronic goods. Although it is a sign of happy consumption in a materialistic world order, the flip-side of it has brought along some negative externalities in the form of pile-up of electronic waste (e-waste). Annual global generation of e-waste are soon expected to touch 50 million tons mark and the corresponding figure for India has now crossed 1.5 million tons. 

Management of e-waste becomes complex, and potentially damaging to economy, society and environment if not done properly, because of presence of many valuable, rare earth, and toxic metals. The e-waste management rules in India, introduced first in 2011 and later amended in 2016, make businesses responsible for managing e-waste. Though the main responsibility has been placed on producers of EEA, but other responsibilities have also been placed bulk consumers (which use EEA in large quantities, e.g. companies, offices and establishments etc.).

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