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Expatriate rich Kerala faces Electronic Waste problem

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“Clean Kerala” to clean Kerala

India faces a huge and growing problem of electronic waste, as increasing disposable income and falling prices of electronics has sharply increased the electronic waste quantity in India. While India has passed laws to control this growing problem, implementation remains lax and e-waste industry is mostly controlled by the unorganized sector. The unorganized sector has no proper processes and equipment to process the hazardous e-waste being generated in the country. Some e-waste companies have come up tying up with big companies however, the consumer e-waste remains unaddressed. The mountains of old smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops are starting to pile up in the country. EU and USA have well-defined strict laws on disposal of e-waste, in which manufacturers are mostly responsible for collecting and recycling of e-waste.

Kerala has started an initiative to control the growing e-waste problem by setting up a company called Clean Kerala. This company will set up a 1000 counters across the state to collect the electronic junk and dispose it in an environment friendly manner. The government has formed the company as e-waste becomes a towering problem in the state. Kerala has a high per-capita income, as majority of the population work as expatriates in the Gulf regions. Billions of dollars in remittances each year make Kerala a high consumption state with a lot of money finding its way in electronic purchases. A lot of the electronics is also bought cheaply from the Gulf region, as there is a huge amount of two way traffic between Kerala and the Middle Eastern states.

E-waste initiatives have to be taken up by other states as well and the center should craft out model policies and regulations for the sector. Tablet and smartphone prices are crashing and it is not hard to find both at less than Rs 5000. While this is great for curbing the “digital divide”, the e-waste problem is a growing one. Smartphones generally have a life of only 2-3 years, which means that India will be disposing around 100-200 million smartphones a year by 2017, (assuming 40-50% acquires a smartphone). This renders a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs as well as the market for e-waste recycling, which will grow into a billion dollar one.

Hindu Businessline

Clean Kerala Company Ltd, an initiative of the Kerala Government for managing solid waste, is planning to take on e-waste piling up in the State, which has a high density of mobile phones, computers, and other electronic gadgets.Kabeer said Kerala is fast becoming a junkyard of e-waste and that as of now, there is no system in place to address the problem.

The company would soon set up nearly 1000 plastic shredding units across the State which would make use of the plastic waste collected by Kudumbashree (women’s economic self-help groups) units. The shredded plastics would be sold to the Public Works Department which would initially use it to pave the municipal roads, and later on the village roads.

Kabeer said the 26 per cent of the company’s stakes was with the State government. The rest would be taken up by municipalities, city corporations and public-sector companies and agencies. He hoped the company could break even in a couple of years.


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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