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E-Waste Industry in India presents huge opportunity with 20% CAGR and 90% unorganized sector marketshare

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The E-Waste Industry in India is poised to grow by more than 20% CAGR as Indians generate increasing amounts of e-waste as income levels grow leading to increasing purchase of electronics and computers. Note a number of e-waste companies in India are already present but they are managing to serve only 10% of the existing market with the rest 90% of the collection and recycling being done by the unorganized sector. The government is increasing more stringent regulations to deal with e-waste as lakhs of tons of e-waste is generated each year.

Note developed countries in the West particularly in Europe have strict rules dealing with the entire life cycle of electronics. There is a  well developed framework for disposal of electronic waste in those countries. However India has failed to implement a uniform federal law on how to deal with this growing problem. While industry bodies are promoting the use of social consciousness what would work is implementing laws which forces the manufacturers and distributors of electronics to take responsibility on how e-waste is collected. Unless someone is made responsible,the problem will not go away by appealing to the good nature of the citizens. It will not only help the environment but also lead in employment generation and recycling of precious materials and metals.

India’s fast growing middle and upper classes are consuming electronic gadgets at an astounding rate. The government has come to realize the problem as the e-waste growth has increased by more than 500% in the last  7 years. Not only is the e-waste growing internally, a lot of is being imported from western countries which have more stringent regulations leading to waste dumping in India. Unlike US and Europe, India lacks the regulations for the safe disposal of massive amounts of the electronic waste. New regulations starting May 2012, will make producers liable for the treatment of e-waste are also imposed.

E-waste Regulations in Other Developed Countries

Europe has been at the forefront with the WEEE directive passed in 2002 while USA has been a laggard as usual failing to prevent toxic waste from being dumped in landfills and shipped to poor countries with lax environmental regulations. Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 has been passed in California which again as usual has been leading the federal government on clean technology legislation.

E-Waste Regulation in US

Electronic Waste Recycling Act, EWRA was signed into law on September 24, 2003, and amended by SB 50 (Stats. 2004, ch. 863) on September 29, 2004. One of the major objectives of the Electronic Waste Recycling Act, as amended, was to establish a new program for consumers to return video display devices, such as televisions and computer monitors, that are hazardous wastes when discarded. California consumers need to pay a fee of $6 to $10 at the time they purchase certain video display devices. Those fees are deposited into a special account that is used to pay qualified e-waste collectors and recyclers to cover their costs of managing e-waste.

Electronic Recycling Fee

California unlike the European Union has taken a different approach to funding of Electronic Waste Management. Whereas in Europe,”Producer Responsibility” is used to fund the disposing of e-waste, California charges a fee from the customers of electronics. The fee is imposed on the retail sale or lease of certain electronic products that have been identified by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). To remit the fee, a retailer must register with the Board of Equalization. A retailer may retain 3 percent of the eWaste fee it collects as reimbursement for costs associated with the collection of the fee.

Objectives of the Electronic Waste Recycling Act

1. To limit the amount of toxic substances in certain electronic products sold in California. The levels of lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium allowed in materials that make up covered electronic devices are limited by California’s ROHS. Manufacturers of covered electronic devices are required to provide information  to: 1) reduce the levels of toxic substances in electronic devices they produce; 2) increase the use of recyclable materials in their products; and 3) provide outreach programs to consumers

2. To establish a funding system for the collection and recycling of discarded covered electronic devices.

Which sales and products are subject to the fee?

Effective January 1, 2005, the fee is due on the retail sale or lease of a new or refurbished CED that has a screen size of more than 4 inches measured diagonally. CEDs include:

  • Televisions that contain cathode ray tubes.
  • Computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes or use liquid crystal displays (LCD).
  • Laptop computers
  • “Bare” cathode ray tubes or any other product that contains a cathode ray tube
  • Televisions containing LCD screens, which includes any device containing an LCD display greater than 4 inches measured diagonally (viewable size), that has television tuner capability and can process a broadcast, cable, or satellite transmitted television signal
  • Plasma televisions
  • Portable DVD Players with LCD screens.

E-Waste Regulation in Europe

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE)  issued by the European Community on E-Waste along with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive in 2003, regulates the collection, recycling and disposal of electronic and electrical equipment. The Directives are 2002/96/EC and 2002/95/EC. WEEE makes it mandatory for the producers to dispose off the Electronic Waste. Unlike the USA which does not have such a strict policy, the companies must do so in an environment friendly way and cannot export all the electronic junk to Africa, India or China which is the general way of the industry.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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