Nowadays, managing and recycling Electronic Waste has become essential and many professionals/ environmentalists are looking at it as a career opportunity.
As we know that electronic industry is growing faster across the globe and due to new policy changes in India many entrepreneurs are flooded in setting up industries and R&D centers for electronic ecosystem; As with a economy to the country it has bought many options for consumers in low price, who tend to move on and replace number of e-goods while discarding previous one leading increase in E Waste.
No doubt there is scope as extraction of rare earth metals can give a profitable business but handling it also is a challenging part as presence of deadly chemicals and toxic substances in it.
Out of 100% only 15 -20 % of E-Waste is recycled Globally and rest is dumped into the landfills or burnt openly producing irreparable threat to the environment.
What is E-Waste
Generally waste is an outcome of product or substance that is no longer suited for its intended use.
“Robinson 2009 defines E wastes as any device connected to power source that no longer satisfies current owner to the purpose for which it was created.”
E-Waste comprises of broad and growing range of electronic devices, ranging from large household devices to consumer electronics which have been discarded by their users.
- Large household appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, heat pumps, washing machine, cooking appliances etc.
- Screens and monitors like computers, cell phones, laptops, Tablets, personal stereos, printers, scanners, fax machines, copping equipment etc.
- Consumer electronics like toaster, coffee machine, clock, watches, hair dryer, shavers, TV, radio, compact discs, camera, video games etc.
- Lighting equipment such as straight fluorescent lamp, compact fluorescent lamp and LED lamps etc.
- Electrical and electronic tools drills, saws, calculators, vacuum cleaner, sewing machine, amplifiers etc.
- Medical devices like radiography, cardiology, neurology, dialysis equipment etc.
- Monitoring and controlling equipment, automatic dispenser like smoke detector, thermostat, ATM etc.
Present scenario and need to recycle
The Basel Action Network, a charitable non-governmental organization, works to combat the export of toxic waste from industrialized societies like US to developing countries like India, China, Pakistan, Taiwan and countries like Africa. Now China has banned the import but India and Pakistan are yet to take any action. They export E-Waste due to availability of cheap labor and as the recycling is mostly left to the informal sector that lacks the skills and expertise the disposal and recycling are found to be highly polluting and risky to human as well as the environment in these countries.
India is the third largest E-Waste producer in the world and produces approximately 2.5 million tonnes of E-waste annually. Though many initiatives have been taken by government and by private firms too, still handling E-Waste is seen to be a challenging as the availability of raw material is problematic and the leakage of material to informal sector.
- The present annual growth rate of E-Waste is about 7-10% in India.
- The top 9 states of India are generating about 655 – 70%.
Whatever E-Goods are manufactured one or the other day they will become E-Waste and recycling/ handling it can run a parallel industry with equal quantum of business and employment opportunities at root level as well as at expertise.
E-Waste is a rich source of rare earth metals like gold, silver, copper etc. efficient recovery of these precious metals can bring a significant economic growth and reduction in carbon footprint too.
In India Waste management is still in the hands of government who are slow in implementing the changes, as far as industries are concerned there is huge scope of development in scientific and eco friendly recycling and recovery of materials.
The major employment areas for a career in E-Waste Management include
- Consultancies: Many private companies provide consultancy services in this field so here you can explore yourself or start by your own as consultant to connect seller to the buyer.
- Government Organizations: Organizations like Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, international E-Waste Management Network are responsible for regulations regarding electronic waste.
- Environmental Agencies: Environmental agencies like cleaning up electronic waste which are mainly concern about the environment provide opportunities in this field.
- Non-profit Conservation Projects: undertaken by government /environment concerned professionals /NGO’s /schools /colleges etc.
- Industrial Organizations: there are many private industries which handle e-waste.
With a jobs profiles likes:
Area Manager, Waste Disposal Manager, Program Manager, Team Leader – Solid Waste Management, QA Analyst- Waste Management, Research Analyst, Environmental Advisor etc.
E-Waste Management Course in India
E-Waste Management is very specialized area, there are no formal courses are available on electronic waste management but some elective institutes cater diploma/ B-Tech/ M-Tech/Bsc or Doctorate in environmental engineering ,environmental management, E-Waste challenges and issues, Eco sustainability and Hazardous Waste Management etc.
Topics can cover Composition of E-Waste, Processes of Informal E-Waste Management, The Effects of E-Waste on health & society, Formal metal extraction processes from E-Waste, Sustainable Engineering from electrical & electronics, Life cycle analysis, Methods to control E-Waste, Global Management of Electronic Waste.
Institutes to watch in India
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad
- Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
- University of Delhi, Delhi
- Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment Delhi, Kanpur, Chennai
- Centre of Environmental Education, Teri, New Delhi
- IIM, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Lucknow
- Written and oral communication
- Decision making and problem-solving
- Leadership and administrative quality
- Organizational skills
- IT knowledge
- Knowledge and awareness on environmental and sustainability issues
- Crisis management
How Can Governments, City Administration, and Citizens Help?
Government can contribute by collaborating with industry to discover standard operating procedures to reduce E-Waste while referring methods adopted by other countries for systematic collection and recycling of E-Wastes.
EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) is a policy approach under which producers are given significant responsibility –financial/physical for the treatment or disposal of post consumer products. Proper implementation of EPR principles by administration can bring effectiveness and success in collecting and recycling the E-Waste. Producers are also stated responsible for E-Waste generation intent is to prevent waste at source, promote eco friendly product design and to support public recycling and material management.
Citizens play vital role in E-waste management as we casually throw/burn/dump many small gadgets openly unknowingly producing many hazardous substances in the environment. It is very detrimental practice and has to stop immediately. Many progressive residence have initiated separate bins and formal disposal recycling of waste for themselves privately this should be followed by others too.
E-Waste management has becoming a significant challenge for governments of many developing countries including India as can affect greatly to the human health and environment. In order to separately collect scientifically treat and dispose it, it is crucial to integrate the informal sector to the formal sector.
Though it seen huge improvement in handling and treatment of E-Waste still competence authorities need to establish scientific mechanisms and RNDs in safe and sustainable way.
However many initiatives has been seen to be taken government as well as by the private firms in promoting and increasing awareness about eco friendly E-Waste management through campaigns and programs still we need a urgent improvement in its current practices such as collection schemes, recovering processes, management practices to avoid illegal trade, reduction of hazardous substances in e-products and proper implementation of ERP.
Implementation of proper legislation (Laws), right exchange of experience and technological advancement can thrive e-waste management into an Industry that can independently gear environmental issues by even generating employment and revenue.