In the absence of an organized system to deal with electronics waste, nearly 90-95 per cent of the capital’s 200 million kgs of waste ends up in landfills or with the informal recyclers who leave it in open, making it a serious environmental threat. According to a study on the surging informal e-waste sector, in 2018, approximately 5,000 e-waste processing units, with most of them situated in East Delhi, were operating without proper guidelines and precautions in Delhi NCR.
Amongst the 15 areas across Delhi NCR, Mustafabad in North-East Delhi, Seelampur in Shahdara, Behta Hazipur and Loni in Ghaziabadturned were reported to be the biggest hotspots, accounting for 15 percent, 57 per cent, 9 per cent and 10 per cent of all the e-waste and informal processing in Delhi-NCR respectively.
In order to curb it, Delhi government has allocated a 20-acre plot in Narela as the capital’s first e-waste park where waste generators and certified recyclers could operate under one roof. However, it will take yet another year till the unit becomes operational. The government is also planning two more such e-waste parks in South and East Delhi.
A senior official of DPCC, working on the e-waste park project said that a detailed project report (DPR) will be prepared now after the finalization of the site. He added that “while action was being taken periodically against informal e-waste recycling units in coordination with the Delhi Police, revenue department and corporations, there are thousands that are still functioning.” Nearly 90 per cent of the e-waste in Delhi is not being recycled.
Through informal dismantling, a high amount of toxins are released in the air and soil through these heavy metals. According to Greenpeace study in 2005, a high concentration of lead, mercury and cadmium was found in the dust samples collected from informal e-waste recycling units in Delhi, which was higher than the samples collected from residential or commercial areas.
To tackle this issue, the government introduced the E-Waste Management Rules in 2016. Six years have passed, yet it has not made any significant impact on the ground. The companies that manufacture electronic items are responsible for the safe recycling and disposal of their items under the “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR), however, this rule has also not succeeded due to the lack of awareness.
As per the latest State of India’s Environment Report 2022, most state pollution control boards lacked the basic information around e-waste. However, the EPR has not failed completely as the consumers are now becoming more aware each day. The implementation and management is gradually gaining priority amongst consumers, and manufacturers. Since the waste recycling procedure involves a lot of stakeholders, its implementation will likely take more time.