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Sustainable Management of Electronics

For a long time, globally there were unsustainable development patterns which along with climate changes compelled the United Nations to come up with 17 SDGs (sustainable development goals). The same was launched in 2015. These set of goals made government, businesses, and society accountable in terms of following a sustainable path, especially in terms of e-waste management.

Once the SDGs were introduced, companies across the world, including biggies like Microsoft, GE, Dell, and Google, made efforts to synchronize their manufacturing process and operations to include as many SDGs as possible to achieve a sustainable management of electronics.

Big Indian companies are the bulk electronic consumers and producers of e-waste. The major part of responsible management of electronics lies on them. They must exhibit an integrated practice to follow SDGs and enable sustainable resources and efficient  management of e-waste. Let’s find out what it takes to align SDGs with  sustainable e-waste management.  

Some SDGs are directly linked with e-waste recycling and management in India. SDG that focuses on sanitation and clean water stresses on enhancing water quality which can be achieved by minimizing pollution, doing away with dumping and reducing direct exposure to harmful chemicals as well as substances to safeguard/restore water connected ecosystems. This is SDG 6 and is very much relevant for companies into safe and sustainable management of e-waste.

Another SDG taking care of responsible production and consumption focuses on efficient management and sustainable  use of resources, environmentally friendly management of substances and chemicals, and regulation of wastes is relevant for companies planning holistic e-waste management. Even the other aspect of the SDG number 12 focuses on minimization of waste production,  by following prevention, recycling, reducing and reusing, is also connected with sustainable management of e-waste by businesses interested in the same.

So are Indian electronic and electrical equipment manufacturing companies exhibiting an inclusive approach with respect to e-waste management?

As per a report published by BusinessWorld, many companies aren’t following an integrated e-waste management approach including policies that enable sustainability.  They have a lot to be done to interlink SDGs with their working methods.  

Even extended producers responsibility(EPR) guidelines are in line with the sustainable development goal number 12. It can be employed to align e-waste management with SDGs. Going by the environmental policy perspective, EPR pertaining to e-waste management if followed by the respective firms can integrate a sustainable approach regarding waste disposal at electronics design level itself. The EPR is a vital tool to solve the issues of environmental degradation due to the mammoth amount of e-waste generation. By abiding by such efficient policies, relevant firms can easily touch upon their complete value chain which will eventually result in a sustainable way of handling e-waste production and management.

Indian firms can follow the best practice of global IT leaders like Intel and Google that employ an integrated strategy that is aligned with SDGs.

Google follows:

·        SDG 4(ensure education)

·        SDG 8(promote economic growth and decent work)

·        SDG 9 (build infrastructure and foster innovation)

·        SDG 17(strengthen means of implementation)

Intel follows SDG 4, SDG 8, and SDG 12 that are well aligned with its business strategies.

Companies cannot perceive strategies regarding e-waste management and SDGs as distinct and not interlinked strategies. They must, instead, adopt a comprehensive as well as inclusive approach towards both and reap benefits that are also in the interest of the nation and its people.