India chips at e-waste mountain

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There is a growing mountain of electronics waste in India that the government is trying to tackle with a recycling law that aims to force high-tech manufacturers to clean up the toxic rubbish their customers discard.

India’s ministry of environment and forests’ new e-waste legislation, which will be effective from May, lays out procedures for manufacturers, waste collectors and consumers, The National reports.

But computer hardware manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard say that it is not just the responsibility of companies but that everyone should share the burden of managing electronic waste.

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“It is the responsibility of consumers to discard their electronic waste appropriately, the responsibility of government to provide adequate collection and drop-off facilities for end-of-life products and the responsibility of manufacturers to manage the treatment and recycling of their products,” said Upasana Choudhry, an environmental manager at HP India. “Within this model of shared responsibility, manufacturers must provide for the recycling of their products, and have an option to do this collectively or individually.”

India’s new legislation is following a global trend in which the producers must become more responsible and not leave recycling up to the consumer. The new rules state that financing and organising a recycling system will make the manufacturer accountable for the lifespan of the product. In the new proposal, companies would also be obliged to introduce environmentally friendly treatment and disposal of their products.

The waste pile is ever-increasing. India’s middle classis gadget-crazy, and with the increase in wealth and economic growth, the number of electronic devices people own for work and entertainment has been on the rise. According to recent estimates by the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology, sales of personal computers including PCs, notebooks and tablets are expected to reach a total of 12.6 million units last year this year. The number of mobile phones is 851 million for the same period.

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