In 2020, according to Global E-waste Monitor, the global production of e-waste was recorded to be 53.6 million tonnes. Contributing 3.2 million tonnes out of this, India ranked third in the list, below China and the United States of America. One can imagine the harm this huge amount of e-waste is causing to the environment as well as our health.
All stakeholders need to take initiative to curb the menace of e-waste. Many e-waste management companies in India like Namo E-waste through their collection centers are taking back the discarded electronic items by consumers and bulk producers. Also, abiding by the EPR (extended producer responsibility) guidelines, producers of electronic items, big brands like LG, Xiaomi, and Dell, etc. have launched many take-back programs and are offering discounts to consumers under exchange offers of old electronic goods.
LG, one of the leading companies in the consumer durable segment, has established a web of 40 e-waste recyclers to make the electronic take-back programs successful in India. Reportedly they recycled about 100 Kilo MT of electronics in the period 2017-2020. They even have customer support staff working in e-waste call centers to process the requests of consumers to collect discarded electronics.
In another great EPR initiative by a manufacturer of hardware, Dell has claimed to be using plastic extracted from recycling discarded computers. The company offers e-waste management services to its consumers directly, with the help of an in-house team, in more than 75 nations. In India, Dell has 23 drop-off centers for formal e-waste disposal by consumers. Since 2006, Dell has been running their online take-back scheme in the country. As the online system of initiating requests is more convenient Dell will continue to run it. They have a future plan of reusing/recycling the same number of products as bought and used by their consumers. They expect to achieve this by 2030.
Xiaomi, one of the leading players in the smartphone segment, has introduced a take-back and e-waste recycling program wherein they credit consumers’ Mi accounts with a discount coupon worth Rs 100 for every old electronic product the consumer shares for recycling. In association with their respective PRO (producer responsibility organization), Xiaomi has built 1150 collection counters at their service centers and Mi Homes in 500 big and small cities. Consumers are free to drop off their old mobile phones, dead batteries, and other discarded electronic accessories at these collection counters.
Reportedly, Xiaomi has collected, in three years, over 400 tonnes of electronic waste. They aim at promoting their e-waste management programs for the end-of-life electronic products to the consumers, at the same time, creating as much awareness as possible so that many people join their e-waste management initiative and make it a success.
Following the E-waste Management & Handling Rules formed in 2016, Xiaomi accepts all brands and kinds of mobile/smartphones, chargers, speakers, power banks, headphones, and various other electronic items sold in the country. The company recycles the collected e-waste. They also ask consumers to completely erase their data stored in the devices prior to handing them over for recycling. These initiatives are laudable and are in the best interest of the country and its people. However, due to a lack of awareness among people the programs do not always achieve their 100 percent goals.