E-Waste Management in India: Challenges and Opportunities

India generates over 50,000 tonnes of e-waste every month. This is not surprising as the e-waste generation rate has been growing at a steady rate of 23.7% per annum for the past ten years. With more than 150 million cell phones sold in India in 2017 alone, sadly the country sees more than 40 million units of discarded electronics each year. As the second-largest producer of e-waste in the world, India needs to develop effective waste management solutions and take responsibility for its own e-waste management.

What is E-waste?

E-waste stands for electronic waste and is typically produced as a result of us getting rid of, or throwing out things that are broken or no longer being used. Electronic waste usually consists of all different types of materials including metals, plastics, liquid crystal, mercury, lithium and inkjet cartridges (just to name a few). 

People don’t tend to like to see their things go to waste just because they no longer have any use for them. The good news is that it’s possible to reuse most of the valuable items found in electronic waste. This can be done by simply separating the different materials which make up e-waste and then using that same material proceeds to make new products altogether.

Computers, servers, monitors, printers, scanners, compact discs (CDs), speakers, calculators, battery cells and mobile phones are examples of e-waste when they become unfit for their use. The presence of highly toxic substances like heavy metals (mercury and lead) and beryllium pose a put environment in danger.

Challenges for E-waste Management in India

E-waste recycling in India is primarily an informal sector activity. There are thousands of poor households making a living by salvaging materials from waste dumps. The common recycling practices for middle class urban households, particularly for waste paper, plastic, clothing and metal, is to sell out to small scale informal sector buyers.

A lot of people in India turn to e-waste management as a way to provide for their families. However, there is a different situation in advanced countries where only authorized personnel are allowed to modify and repair electronic devices which may then be refurbished or dismantled. There is also no concept of consumers paying for disposal of the e-waste they generate.

Opportunities of E-waste management in India:

Nations across the globe with underdeveloped waste disposal systems lack the infrastructure and technical capacities needed to deal with e-Waste in a safe and efficient manner. E-Waste has been linked to a number of health issues so assisting developing countries become educated about the dangers posed by this waste is an important part of helping it all get cleaned up. However, many devices that contribute to e-Waste contain numerous toxic chemicals that aren’t currently regulated or monitored, meaning they often end up in landfills instead of being recycled properly.

In India, the economics of e-waste management have created a potentially lucrative new sector in recycling. With the increasing number of upwardly-mobile families, more than 3 million households buy one or more electronic products per annum. Also growing is the informal recycling industry which currently recycles only 2% of total e-waste generated. 


E-waste management in India is becoming a serious issue, as more and more people are purchasing and using electronic devices. This blog has discussed ways to manage e-waste in India, but it is important to note that this blog is not an in-depth study of the topic. Instead, it is meant to give a brief overview of the topic, and we hope that you will use it as a starting point to learn more about e-waste management in India.