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MeitY formulates policy for e-waste recycling

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To promote a circular economy

Aiming to deal with e-waste as part of the larger plan of the Indian government to encourage circular economy, or ensuring zero to minimal wastage in the use of electronics and electrical sector, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has formulated a policy paper that deals with these issues.

The paper, “Circular Economy in Electronics and Electrical Sector,” was entrusted to MeitY by the Niti Aayog, and focuses on the life cycle of electronics including stages of raw material acquisition, design, manufacturing/production stage, consumption to end of life (e-waste) management, and secondary raw materials utilisation.

Circular economy as a concept has been gaining ground globally, International Telecommunication Union, World Economic Forum, the United Nations and others stressing the need to ensure minimum wastage in the electrical and electronics sectors.

“India is the third largest consumer of raw materials produced globally and estimated to consume nearly 15 billion tonnes of material by 2030 with the current economic trends. Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE)-manufacturing is dependent on high material consumption with metals like iron, copper, silver, gold, aluminum, manganese, chromium and zinc along with various rare earth elements. The rate of extraction of these abiotic resources for EEE manufacturing is significantly higher than the rate of their formation in nature. CE approach will thus be imperative to fulfill the resource needs for the country,” the policy paper noted.

The focus areas include 11 end-of-life products/recyclable materials/wastes that either continue to pose considerable challenges or are emerging as new challenge areas that must be addressed in a holistic manner.

The paper covers the entire lifecycle of the products used in EEE manufacturing, and makes short, medium and long term suggestions about CE.

For example, in raw material procurement, it recommends mandatory use of a certain percentage of critical materials sources from secondary materials and promotion of technology for extraction of maximum number of materials through technology development/transfer, innovative finance mechanisms and schemes.

In the consumption stage, the policy recommendations include resource efficiency or circular economy labeling, eco-labelling on the products in the percentage use of recycled materials in the product to create consumer awareness in recycling aspects of products.

It further recommends regulation to increase EEE warranty from 2 to 6 years, measures against planned obsolescence, legal warranty of second hand products and promoting green public procurement (GPP) by government agencies.

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