In this article, You will read Electronic waste & E-Waste Management and Handling Rules 2016 – for UPSC IAS.

Electronic waste (E-Waste)

  • Electronic waste, also called e-waste, various forms of electric and electronic equipment that have ceased to be of value to their users or no longer satisfy their original purpose.
  • The discarded and end-of-life electronic products ranging from computers, equipment, home appliances, audio, and video products, and all of their peripherals are popularly known as Electronic waste (E-waste).
  • E-waste is not hazardous if it is stocked in safe storage or recycled by scientific methods or transported from one place to the other in parts or totality in the formal sector.
  • The e-waste can, however, be considered hazardous if recycled by primitive methods.

Source and health effects

ParticularsSourceHealth Effects
LeadUsed in glass panels and gaskets in computer monitors. Solder in printed circuit boards and other ComponentsLead tends to accumulate in the environment and has high acute and chronic effects on plants, animals and microorganisms.
CadmiumOccurs in SMD chip resistors, infra-red detectors, and semiconductor chips. Some older cathode ray tubes contain cadmiumToxic cadmium compounds accumulate in the human body, especially the kidneys.
MercuryIt is estimated that 22 % of the yearly world consumption of mercury is used in electrical and electronic equipment. Mercury is used in thermostats, sensors, relays, switches, medical equipment, lamps, mobile phones, and batteries. Mercury, used in flat panel displays, will likely increase as its use replaces cathode-ray tubesMercury can cause damage to organs including the brain and kidneys, as well as the foetus. The developing foetus is highly vulnerable to mercury exposure. When inorganic mercury spreads out in the water, it is transformed to methylated mercury which bio-accumulates in living organisms and concentrates through the food chain, particularly via fish.
Chromium VI 29
Chromium VI is used as a corrosion protector of untreated and galvanized steel plates and as a decorative or hardener for steel housings Plastics (including PVC): Dioxin is released when PVC is burned. The largest volume of plastics (26%) used in electronics has been PVC. PVC elements are found in cabling and computer housings. Many computer mouldings are now made with the somewhat more benign ABS plasticsChromium VI can cause damage to DNA and is extremely toxic in the environment.
BariumBarium is used in computers in the front panel of a CRT, to protect users from radiation.Studies have shown that short-term exposure to barium causes brain swelling.
BerylliumBeryllium is commonly found on motherboards and finger clips. It is used as a copper-beryllium alloy to strengthen connectors and tiny plugs while maintaining electrical conductivityExposure to beryllium can cause lung cancer. Beryllium also causes a skin disease that is characterized by poor wound healing and wart-like bumps.
TonersFound in the plastic printer cartridge containing black and colour toners.Inhalation is the primary exposure pathway, and acute exposure may lead to respiratory tract irritation. Carbon black has been classified as a class 2B carcinogen, possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Phosphor andadditivesPhosphor is an inorganic chemical compound that is applied as a coat on the interior of the CRT faceplate.The phosphor coating on cathode ray tubes contain heavy metals, such as cadmium, and other rare earth metals, for example, zinc, vanadium as additives. These metals and their compounds are very toxic.

E-Waste in India

  • India generates about 18.5 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of electronic waste every year, with Mumbai and Delhi-NCR accounting for the biggest chunk. The figure is likely to reach up to 30 lakh MT per year by 2018.
  • Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Surat, and Nagpur are other important cities generating a substantial amount of e-waste.
  • Among the eight largest e-waste generating states, Maharashtra ranks first followed by Tamil Nadu (2nd), Andhra Pradesh (3rd), Uttar Pradesh (4th), Delhi (5th), Gujarat (6th), Karnataka (7th), and West Bengal (8th).
  • Over half of the e-waste generated in the developed world are exported to developing countries, mainly to China, India, and Pakistan, where metals like copper, iron, silicon, nickel, and gold are recovered during the recycling process.
  • Unlike developed countries, which have specifically built facilities for recycling of e-waste, recycling in developing countries often involves manual participation thus exposing workers to toxic substances present in e-waste.

Heavy Metal Toxicity and Methods of their Prevention

  • Toxic metals are dispersed in the environment through metal smelting industrial emissions, burning of organic wastes, automobiles, and coal-based power generation.
  • Heavy metals can be carried to places far away from their source of origin by winds when they are emitted in gaseous form or form of fine particulates.
  • Rain ultimately washes the air having metallic pollutants and brings them to the land and to water bodies.
  • Heavy metals cannot be destroyed by biological degradation.
  • The heavy metals often encountered in the environment include lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium. These are known to cause toxic effects in living organisms.


  • Lead enters the atmosphere from automobile exhaust.
  • Tetraethyl lead (TEL) was added to petrol as an anti-knock agent for the smooth running of engines.
  • Lead in petrol is being phased out by the introduction of lead-free petrol.
  • Many industrial processes use lead, and it is often released as a pollutant.
  • Battery scrap also contains lead. It can get mixed up with water and food and create cumulative poisoning.
  • Lead can cause irreversible behavioral disturbances, neurological damage, and other developmental problems in young children and babies. It is a carcinogen of the lungs and kidneys.


  • In Japan, mass mercury poisoning (Minamata disease) was observed in the 1960s, caused by eating fish from Minamata Bay which was contaminated with methyl mercury.
  • Mercury kills cells in the body and damages organs and thus impairs their functioning.
  • Inhalation of mercury vapors is more dangerous than its ingestion.
  • Chronic exposure causes lesions in the mouth and skin and neurological problems.
  • Mercury thermometers used earlier are getting replaced by mercury-free thermometers.


  • Arsenic is associated with copper, iron and silver ores.
  • Arsenic is also emitted from fossil fuel burning.
  • Liquid effluents from fertilizer plants also contain arsenic.
  • Groundwater contamination with arsenic is very common in areas where it is present.
  • Chronic arsenic poisoning causes melanosis and keratosis (dark spots on the upper chest, back, and arms are known as melanosis. The next stage is keratosis in which palms become hard) and leads to loss of appetite, weight, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal disturbances, and skin cancer.
  • Surface waters are generally free from arsenic pollution and should be preferred for drinking and cooking.


  • Mining, especially of zinc and metallurgical operations, electroplating industries, etc., release cadmium in the environment.
  • It may enter the human body by inhalation or from aquatic sources including fish, etc.
  • It may cause hypertension, liver cirrhosis, brittle bones, kidney damage, and lung cancer.
  • Itai-itai disease first reported from Japan in 1965 was attributed to cadmium contamination in water and rice caused by the discharge of effluents from a zinc smelter into a river.

Other Heavy Metals

  • Metals such as zinc, chromium, antimony, and tin enter food from cheap cooking utensils.
  • Preserved foods stored in tin cans also cause contamination by tin.
  • Zinc is a skin irritant and affects the pulmonary system.

E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 in supersession of the e-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011.
  • Making the norms stringent, the new E-waste rules included Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury-containing lamps, as well as other such equipments.
  • For the first time, the rules brought the producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), along with targets. Producers have been made responsible for the collection of E-waste and for its exchange.
  • Various producers can have a separate Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) and ensure the collection of E-waste, as well as its disposal in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Deposit Refund Scheme has been introduced as an additional economic instrument wherein the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of the electrical and electronic equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.
  • The role of State Governments has been also introduced to ensure the safety, health, and skill development of the workers involved in dismantling and recycling operations.
  • A provision of penalty for violation of rules has also been introduced.
  • Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) has been assigned the duty to collect and channelized the orphan products to authorized dismantlers or recyclers.

E-waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018

  • The e-waste collection targets under EPR have been revised and is being applied from October 1, 2017.
  • The phase-wise collection targets for e-waste in weight is 10% of the quantity of waste generation as indicated in the EPR Plan during 2017-18, with a 10% increase every year until 2023. The target from 2023 onwards, shall be 70% of the quantity of waste generation as indicated in the EPR Plan.
  • The quantity of e-waste collected by producers from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017 shall be accounted for in the revised EPR targets until March 2018.
  • Separate e-waste collection targets have been drafted for new producers, i.e. those producers whose number of years of sales operation is less than the average lives of their products.
  • Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) shall apply to the Central Pollution Control board (CPCB) for registration to undertake activities prescribed in the Rules.
  • Under the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) provisions, the cost for sampling and testing shall be borne by the government for conducting the RoHS test. If the product does not comply with RoHS provisions, then the cost of the test will be borne by the producers

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Awesome note…..


Thank you sir

updesh maurya

helpful for all civil service examination