You are at Toxics Alert > Report > International Conference on Heavy Metals and E-waste
Toxics Alert, an environment news bulletin from toxics link Toxics Link
Issue 20
, 2009
View issue number:
  Home  |  Editorial  |  Feature  |  Interview  |  News  |  Policy  |  Updates  |  Reports / International News  |  Partner


International Conference on Heavy Metals and E-waste

Source: Toxics Alert, Date: , 2009

International Conference on Heavy Metals and E-waste


Welcome and special address: Ravi agrawal, Director, Toxics Link

Products and chemicals of everyday use are often taken for granted but exposure to these have toxic effect on us. Lead and mercury particularly large impacts on IQs, shift of average IQ downwards as early as 6-7 years. They have grave impacts on our health and environment. If we need to become world leader we need involve in what constitutes world leadership. We need not wait for next 50 years to talk about sustainable development because these chemicals are quite easy to substitute and can be replaced as recognized internationally also.

Opening Address: Mr. Rob Donkers, eu

We are surrounded by chemicals which have alarmingly high levels of effects on our health. Various legislations on waste in EU don’t fit into Indian context but have policy level significance. Many corporate are complying to environmental laws and caps under their CSR program. Internationally the policy is to tackle substance by substance as some are more dangerous than others. If producers and users want to continue use of chemicals then they have to come with evidence that they can do it safely and set procedure for the same and prove that there are no alternatives for it. Driving EU policy is a "better safe than sorry" philosophy called the precautionary principle. Following that guideline, which is codified into EU law, European regulators have taken action against chemicals even when their dangers remain largely uncertain. The task of management of waste is too huge and cannot be undertaken by the government alone.

Vote of thanks: satish sinha, associate director, toxics link

The question that faces us is that what mechanisms do we use and how to implement them should we replicate it from Europe. Extended producer responsibility on products is one such an issues which have been effectively implemented in EU and need to be addressed in India. They are far beyond our comprehension as waste generated in India is phenomenal and there seems no way of dealing with it. Toxic Link has been working on mercury for 5 years. We worked with schools, hospitals and offices and many of them had heard about it first time. They did a tremendous job collecting it but don’t know what to do with it. When we launched lead study on 10 developing countries, some countries decided to phase out lead, it became a USP for them to sell lead free paints. And people actually went for these paints this is how consumers can be influenced. If they are aware they can make an informed choice even if it means spending a little more.


Observation the case of heavy metals is something like plastic. Plastic themselves are not bad but plastic bags got a bad a name because of our inability to control their use. If humanity has come so far in using these chemicals then we don’t necessarily have to say no to them such as the likes of pharmaceuticals. First we need to know which of these are toxic, exposure and handling. Till we have toxic data we cannot protect our workers we need to provide them with training to handle them safely. Extended producer responsibility is the need of the hour including making design changes, setting on points. They need to make voluntary changes which will have cost implications. Awareness on part of consumers can also push the industries apart from this we need a policy framework. Industries need to be involved in framing these policies at the early stages.

Technical session 1: mercury: achievement and challenges

Session chair: Dr. A.A.Sengupta, who

Mercury: global achievements and challenges: elena lymberidi, european environmental bureau

Over the past 150 years there has been 3 fold increase of Hg globally. Use of mercury has been made in Occupational/Local, Religious/Cultural, Dental Mercury, Vaccines, Skin Lightening Cream. The sources of mercury have been identified as Coal combustion, Chlor alkali facilities, Incineration of wastes, Mining, product discards and mercury waste piles. Restrictions of mercury use in products are taking place also in other countries around the world. UNEP Agreed on Global mercury policy framework identifying the basic elements necessary for comprehensive action on mercury. The advantages of such a treaty would include Controlled supply and eliminate global mercury trade, minimize international trade law conflicts, Substantial global coordination and a level playing field, Prohibit new undesired activities, Elevate the importance, facilitate implementation of relevant national legislation in developing countries. But the challenges faced would entail addressing measures to effect reductions of mercury supply, demand and emissions in a timely manner, technical and financial assistance, and mechanisms addressing compliance for a successful treaty, ensure participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition, during the negotiations and implementation of the treaty.

Mercury movement in healthcare: dr. Kathy mckeehan, hiht, dehradun

Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust is a multi specialty hospital on the foothills of Himalaya covering a 1000 villages through its rural development program.

The main focus was on making Blood Pressure Instruments, Thermometers and Dental Amalgams as mercury free. This was done through research, market assessment, putting the validation process in place, determining cost, writing proposal, setting up implementation team and giving, In-service Education to All Faculty, Staff, and Students, and finally reaching out for grants verification process and planning for storage facility. What is required on part of the government is: Duty Taxes Be Relaxed on all Non-mercury Blood Pressure & temperature instruments that are approved by at least one of the 3 International Approving Agencies, A Heavy Tax Be Placed on All Mercury Instruments and Non-approved Non-mercury Instruments (made inside or outside India), Work More Closely with WHO, UNEP, TOXICS Link and HEALTH CARE WITHOUT HARM to Assist in Formalizing a Working Committee on Hypertension in India, Meetings be Focused on two dimensions regarding “Mercury in Health Care “: a) Awareness b) Problems of Implementation, i.e. securing Approved, Verifiable Instruments, and Storage of Mercury Instruments.

Fishing toxics: a study on mercury contamination of fish in west Bengal: mr. shantanu, disha, west Bengal

Mercury is one of the most dangerous environmental pollutants, both in its elemental form and in chemical combination. When mercury is released into the environment it gets transformed into methyl mercury through microbial action. It bioaccumulates in fish and enters the human body when the fish is eaten. But the health effects of mercury exposure depend upon the route, amount, and duration of exposure, as well as the person's age and health. Research has indicated that methylmercury has adverse effects on intelligence and mental stability.

The study tried to quantify and assess the level of mercury in fish and crustaceans collected from Water bodies in selected areas from different parts of West Bengal, 5 prominent markets in Kolkata; to try and arrive at a reasonable conclusion regarding the nature and extent of mercury contamination of fish, on the basis of analyzing the results from the Laboratory; to make a risk assessment of mercury contaminated fish intake on the basis of detected contamination levels; and to suggest recommendations on the basis of the above results and analysis thereof. The results show that in the two scenarios: A total of 264 samples spread over 56 fish and crustacean varieties were taken. It was obvious that large numbers of people, particularly women and children, are being exposed to unhealthy doses of methylmercury.The need of the hour is to launch a full-scale investigation.  And on the basis of the results it is necessary for governments to try and formulate fish advisories, which highlight the most contaminated species and advise quantities of intake, particularly for the most susceptible population, pregnant women and children. What is also required is that the Indian medical community wake up to the need of including environmental medicine into their discourse of diagnostics and therapy. Once the sources are identified efforts must be made to cut down on pollution so as to bring mercury pollution down to safe levels. Pending this long term solution, and drawing upon thoroughgoing studies of mercury contamination in fish, fish advisories should be prepared by the concerned authorities instructing citizens about relatively safe and unsafe species and fish sources. Mercury and other pollutants of similar severity should become an important item in civil society initiatives.

Thermal power plants: a major culprit for the mercury emission in India: Dr. Ragini kumairi, Toxics link

India is 3rd largest hard coal producer after China and USA. About 70% of the heat and electricity production in India depends on indigenous coal. Concentration of Hg in Coal varies from region to region and type of coal as well. Power generation is one important source of pollutants such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulate matter that can affect the respiratory, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems and cause pregnancy complications. Greater emissions from power plants and other industries in the past century have increased the amount of environmental mercury; because mercury does not break down easily into less harmful substances, it remains hazardous indefinitely. Heavy metals like Mercury is released by power plants into the air and settles into water, where microorganisms convert it into methylmercury, a toxin that accumulates in fish, shellfish, and animals that eat fish.

Shift towards membrane in chlor-akali industry-cost: mr. y.r. singh, Executive Director, AMAI, India

GLOBAL industry is $ 48 BILLION while INDIAN Chlor Alkali $ 1.8 BILLION. Only 7% of Indian Capacity is based on Mercury Cell, which too, will be phased out by 2012, as per CREP Directive. Total Mercury Recovered by Chlor-Alkali units in India from March 2003 till date is 347 MT. Mercury recovered by operating Mercury Cell units was utilized in the plant, thereby reducing their Mercury purchases and Imports of Mercury. Mercury recovered at the time of conversion has been disposed off / sold as per the Rules. During 25th session of the governing Council of the United Nations environment program held on 16-20 Feb, 2009 at Nairobi, a global legal binding instrument on Mercury was announced and agreed. This could include both binding and voluntary approaches. Committee will start its work in 2010 with a goal of completing this document by 2013.


The consumption of fish is by far the most significant source of ingestion-related mercury exposure in humans, although plants and livestock also contain mercury due to bioaccumulation of mercury from soil, water and atmosphere, and due to biomagnification by ingesting other mercury-containing organisms. Because fish and shellfish have a natural tendency to store methylmercury in their organs, they are the leading source of mercury ingestion for humans.

The government should immediately ban or restrict, through certain fiscal disincentives for the usage of elemental mercury and mercury compounds and provide incentives for those using mercury alternatives. In cases of uncontrolled disposal of mercury-containing products or wastes, possible reductions in releases from such practices might be achieved by making these practices illegal and by enhancing access to hazardous waste disposal facilities. Many countries have made it binding on manufacturers to collect discarded gadgets containing hazardous material. India should emulate their example. Further, healthcare outlets should be sensitised about the need for segregating hazardous chemical waste form biomedical and other litter, for suitable disposal

There are various alternatives available for such as for Product or application chlor-alkali industry, Membrane technology which does have Higher investment costs for conversion but lower operational, waste treatment and disposal costs. In case of Pressure measuring and control equipment, pressure gauges, switches and transmitters, mercury can be substituted using flexible membrane, piezoelectric crystals and fibre-optic pressure sensors, in barometers and manometers, mercury can be replaced by other liquids or gases Electrical and electronic instruments are slightly more expensive but alternatives based on gas, other liquids or mechanical spring show no significant price difference.

Energy, power, health all need a balanced strategy that is changes, repercussions would it bring, cost implications, producer and consumer willingness and the effects of the substitutes used. Global pollutants require global action. No one country can solve it. Developing countries need assistance in reducing chemical use and emissions and s comprehensive and effective treaty will be needed.

Technical session 2: lead: usage and impact

Session chair: Mr. Taneja, max hospital, delhi

Lead in paints: global study: mr. prashant rajankar, toxics link

Paints in general are differentiated into decorative or architectural paints and industrial paints. Lead is also used to make paints more durable and corrosion resistant. Repeated studies have concluded that lead paint is a significant source of lead poisoning. It can cause Learning disabilities, Neuropsychological deficits, Hyperactive behavior, Encephalopathy (brain swelling) Coma, Brain damage, Academic failure, Attention deficit disorder, Antisocial (criminal) behavior, Major organ failure and even Death. There is an urgent need to determine the lead content of paints in other countries to document the need worldwide for a ban on its continued use. Considering the dangerous effects of lead on human health several countries enacted laws to regulate the lead concentrations in paints. Overall 317 paint samples, which included 232 enamel samples, 78 plastic samples and 7 varnish samples, were analysed for total lead concentrations. Taking all samples together 53 % samples were found to have lead concentrations more than 90 ppm while 50 % samples had lead concentrations more than 600 ppm. The recommendations that came out of the study are developing a programme to determine the source of lead contamination of household dust, setting guidelines to reduce exposure to lead while removing old paints or recoating with new ones, mass campaign to educate and make people aware of the hazards associated with lead, using lead-free paint symbol on products, as well as guidelines for use including for home decorative or industrial and commercial.

Lead and health: dr. anupam sachdev, Indian acaemy of pediatrics

The World Health Organization estimates that 15-18 million children in developing countries are suffering from permanent brain damage due to lead poisoning. Lead is not biodegradable. It persists in the soil, in the air, in drinking water, and in homes. It crosses all social, economical and geographical lines. World-wide, six sources appear to account for most lead exposure: gasoline additives; food can soldering; lead-based paints; ceramic glazes; drinking water systems; and cosmetic and folk remedies.  Other significant exposures result from inadequately controlled industrial emissions from such operations as lead smelters and battery recycling plants. It never disappears, it only accumulates where it is deposited and can poison generations of children and adults unless properly removed.  At high levels, lead poisoning causes coma, convulsions and death. At low levels - levels far below those that present obvious symptoms - lead poisoning in childhood causes reductions in IQ and attention span, reading and learning disabilities, hyperactivity, impaired growth, behavioral problems, and hearing loss. These effects are long-term and may be irreversible. Blood lead levels once considered safe are now considered hazardous, with no known threshold. Lead poisoning is a wholly preventable disease by eliminating exposure, educate, treating nutritional deficiencies, chelation therapy.

Toxicity of lead: case study: mr. Rajeev ranjan sharma

Lead poisoning in young children is a matter of grave concern which can cause irreversible damage to the brain Abdominal pain /colic, Anorexia, irritability & lethargy, Anemia, Ataxia and slurred speech, Renal failure, Convulsions, coma and death due to generalized cerebral edema. Exposure can be Lead-painted house, House dust, Lead pipes containing drinking water, Hand to mouth activities of children, Toys, Glazed ceramics contaminating food and drinks, Jewellery, Ayurvedic remedies, Holi colours, Manufacturing of Auto batteries, Ceramics, Stained glass, Fishing weights, Paints, Bullets, Fire crackers. Exposure can cause abdominal pain, Headache, Irritability, Joint pain, Fatigue, Anemia, Peripheral motor neuropathy, Deficits in short term memory, Dyspepsia.


Lead in form or level is safe. There is lack of comparative data making it difficult to suggest anything concrete but there is enough ambient sources for lead in the air effects of which can be petrifying with introduction of alternatives such as CNG, Benezine as impacts of these can only be seen 20-30 years down the lane. Lead has an effect of long range transmission and it will be present in the atmosphere. Lead a potent toxic was removed from gasoline or petrol in 2000 in India but even the unleaded petrol has lead in small quantities of natural origin.

Technical session 3: alternative and bottleneck

Session chair: ruma tavaroth, environmental specialist (world bank) and dr. k.c.gupta, director (ITRC)

Alternative fillings: issues and future: prof. sangeeta talwar, maulana azad institute of dental sceience

Past 25 yrs have witnessed advances in alternate filling materials to Dental Amalgam. Today it is very difficult to state which is the best restorative material. However alternative materials have been in use since last 30 years during which more biocompatible materials are now available. Amalgam still appears most cost effective and longest lasting restorative material for posterior teeth. We cannot assume that non Hg containing alternatives are free from any concerns about adverse effects. Alternatives to Mercury used in dental amalgam are Gold, silver, ceramic, porcelain, polymers, composites, glass ionomers amalgam fillings while some of these are less expensive and easy to apply, others are more expensive and difficult to apply.Dental amalgam is safe and indispensable in certain clinical situations; however it is imperative that we take adequate precautions for Mercury Management.

Alternative to lead in paint industry: mr. d. satpute, nerolac

Lead is a Heavy Metal which is used in paint or coating as a pigment and drier affects Brain & Kidneys, Cardiovascular systems, Reproductive systems, can cause Seizures & mental retardation, , Neurological dysfunction, Gastro intestinal complaints. Consumer product safety commission (US) – Max 0.06% (600 ppm). Australia, Canada, EU, Germany, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand – Not to be used. Max. 0.1 % as impurities. EPA, OSHA have even set limits of Lead content in Ambient Air, Soil & water. The Indian paint industry has taken various initiatives such as increased media coverage, awareness campaign, regulations on Lead Usage, use of Safe & Viable alternative to Lead, involving Government & Health Authorities. The various steps which can be taken at home only Get young children tested for lead, Wash children's hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys often, Make sure children eat healthy, low-fat foods, Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces, Wipe soil off shoes before entering house, Take precautions to avoid exposure to lead dust when remodelling or renovating, not use a dry scraper, or dry sandpaper on painted surfaces that may contain lead.


Scientists agree that dental amalgam fillings leach mercury into the mouth, but different studies have concluded that this exposure may be as low as 1-3 µg/day (FDA), or as high as 27 µg/day. The effect of this exposure is disputed and currently dental amalgam is approved for use in most countries. Better dental health overall coupled with increased demand for more modern alternatives such as resin composite filling, as well as public concern about the mercury content of dental amalgam, have resulted in a steady decline in dental amalgam in developed countries, though overall amalgam use continues to rise worldwide. Given its superior strength, durability and long life relative to the more expensive composite fillings, it will likely be around for many more years to come. The WHO reports that mercury from amalgam and laboratory devices accounts for 53% of total mercury emissions, and that one-third of the mercury in the sewage system comes from dental amalgam flushed down the drain. The environmental pollution of mercury imposes health risks upon the surrounding population; in economics this pollution is considered an external cost not factored into the private costs of using dental amalgam. The approach which is required is prevention; concern on how to preserve tooth so as we require less of filling. Whenever a filling is there some sort of adverse effect is bound to be there.

Substitutes for lead pigments and technologies are available and are being used by some manufacturers, which do not need to use lead to produce high-quality paint. The increase in cost resulting from the substitution is relatively small and cannot be compared with the harm caused to human beings due to continued exposure to lead. Some colours of paint have higher concentration of lead such as yellow and orange and they can be avoided. There is optimism about regulating lead content in paints among the industry. The problem is that it costs some money and so companies do not spend until pushed by regulations, or in this case by environmental pressure. The mandatory standards are also necessary as only then do companies get a level playing field because all of them have to comply. So, the government has to step in and set regulations and then ensure that these are enforced.


Welcome and opening remarks: Mr. Ravi Agarwal, Director, Toxics Link

There is growing talk about issues around fresh technology specially those concerning new emerging waste streams globally, which relate to new lifestyles and investment in technology. Waste emerging out of technology has significantly large hazardous effect and solutions can’t be just on the recovery side that is collection and recycling but it has to be a composite package beginning from the beginning of life cycle of the product. Collection is the most challenging task and there exists different ways of collecting and recycling waste thereby requiring huge investments towards local collections and employing cooperative mechanism with the informal sector which does most of the latter. Thirdly it is essential to address that a pure market mechanism would not be enough to handle the problem but what is required is a regulatory framework involving all stakeholders which means industries, civil society organizations, customers and government.

Opening Address: Dr. J Bischoff, Director, GTZ-ASEM

India is pioneering in developing ways to manage the problem of e-waste. Annually maximum E-waste is generated on account of only 3 element T.V, Computer and Mobile. As per a GTZ-MAIT sponsored study conducted recently by IMRB, e-waste generated in India during 2007 was around 332,979 MT besides about 50,000 MT entering the country by way of imports. The reasons for generation of this large quantity of e-waste were unprecedented growth of the IT industry and the early product obsolescence due to continuous innovation. Thus the net effect is the e-waste turning into a fastest growing waste stream. It was observed that 94% of the organizations studied did not have any policy on disposal of obsolete IT products/e-waste. 95% of the e-waste is segregated, dismantled and recycled in the informal sector based in urban slums. E-waste generated in India will touch 4.7 lakh tonnes by 2011, according to MAIT-GTZ study on e-waste assessment in the country. It is essential that the electronics industry encourage reuse of obsolete electronics items by refurbishing them and by providing service support. Further, a policy on e-waste management is essential for industries. Government should develop an inclusive model identifying and defining the roles of each stakeholder industries, government, NGOs, consumers and manufacturers and the recyclers. He emphasized on building a partnership with informal sector for recycling in way which is less threatening to health and environment.

Opening Address: B.P Shukla, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

The CPCB is in the process of forming legislative framework in association with MoEF for management of E-waste. This is because 90% of E-waste is still recycled by informal sector and in crude and hazardous conditions. So our main objective is to bring them into a formal network. Secondly our concern is Extended producer responsibility so that producer himself is responsible. Thirdly we need to focus on collection centres which must be easily accessible for consumers and fourthly provide money back incentive to improve collection and create awareness about of toxicity of E-waste. Apart from that we need to prepare a national inventory on E-waste and possible substitutes of the toxic substances in the EEE. The Guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management of E-waste (henceforth, the CPCB’s Guideline) was finalized on 12 March 2008. The Guidelines aim to “provide guidance for identification of various sources of waste electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste) and prescribed procedures for handling e-waste in an environmentally sound manner” and also are “reference document for the management, handling and disposal of e-wastes”.

Special Address: Dr. Saroj, Director, MoEF

E-waste has come to the gamut of hazardous waste. What is required is cooperation of all environmental NGOs with government so that, we can get a concrete and final figure of e-waste generated what kinds and how much is available for recycling. The figure projected usually is the direct sale of the companies. We don’t throw away our EEE immediately. It is reused, sold and resold and often just stored away. Collection centres are the heart of management of E-waste. Unless we address it none of the recycling units and procedures which are being proposed to be set up would be economically doable. Registration of collection centre by the recyclers has already come into process. There is a need for Public-private partnership model where the informal sector is also brought into the network. MoEF appreciated the efforts of all organizations which are devoted to management of E-Waste and each and every tie up with informal sector would be welcomed and provided with registry. Ministry has been giving permit for import and export of very selective components of E-Waste because of insufficiency of recycling facilities. Another concern of ours is about recycling regulation such that are at par with the international scenario. We also need to be fully aware of countries which have banned import and export of E-waste. And what kind of E-waste is imported by developing countries?


vote of thanks: Mr. Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link

A country like India, so diverse has inequitable distribution of EEE and waste. Quantum of waste for recycling may be very low because of reuse, resell and storing. So we cannot assume that whatever is produced is also available for recycling. We need to develop a sustainable business purview which includes because waste is valuable and has immense business opportunities which can be profitable. The problem may be global but solutions have to be local. Now the main task is getting the right regulations in place which are sustained by supportive and enabling enforcement mechanism. The speaker thanked all members present and presenters and all have and will share their view and experience.

Session 1: E-waste: Health and Environmental Issues

Chair: Rajoo goel, Secretary General, ELCINA

E-waste Overview: Finding Sustainable Solutions

 speaker: priti Mahesh, senior programme officer, toxics link

E-waste globally constitutes monitors (10%), televisions (10%), computers, telephones, fax, printers etc (15%) constituting electronic waste and DVD/VCR players, CD players, radios, hi-fi sets etc and Refrigerators (20%), washing machines, dryers, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, coffee machines, toasters, irons, etc (30%) consisting of electric waste. 50 million tonnes of E-waste is generated globally of which more than 4 lakh tonnes of E-waste generated in India- growing at 10-15% annually. Environmental impacts of EEE waste is considerably high due to recycling which in India is done mostly by informal sector in hazardous conditions including open burning, acid baths. Other problems revolve around dumping of the remains in land and water bodies and Air Pollution caused due to release of BFR, Lead, Mercury. Cross contamination due to improper and unsafe recycling practices including recycling of BRF containing plastics resulting in new products which have the huge potential for contamination. The global efforts and solutions for India can be Waste minimization, Refurbishment, Reuse and Recycle, adoption of WEEE, RoHS, REACH, implementation of regulations and policy to drive waste minimization and a proper Legal Framework to address end of life management, establishment of Extended Producer Responsibility principle and Strong Collection system. The principle of Reuse, Refurbishment & Recycling is the need of the hour which includes extending the product’s useful life through refurbishment substantially reduces carbon footprints, recovery of material and prevent release of toxins through integration of informal sector and establishing safe recycling practices.

Assessment of exposure and effect on the health of recyclers handling electronic waste (e-waste) in NCR, Delhi

About the speaker: Dr. Nitish K. Dogra, MD, MPH (USA), Assistant Professor (Public Health), International Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), New Delhi, India

Summary of the study was that Environmental monitoring studies need to be standardized, Careful correlation with biomarkers e.g. Cu (high exposure but within limits biomarkers), Community ‘control’ must be taken into account, Lead and chromium are ‘red-flags’, Possible early pulmonary and neurological consequences, Social justice issue of elderly women need to be addressed.

legislation and standards on e-waste in india; E-Waste Legislation and Road Map

 speaker: Mr. Anand Kumar, environmental engineer, central pollution control board

The Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2008 - e-waste categorized as a hazardous waste, Registration for all E-waste recyclers and Transboundary Movement (export and import) of E-waste.

The Proposed Road Map for better E-waste Management include:

Legislative Measure such as Strengthening of Legislative Frame Work, Developing mechanism to check Illegal import of the E-Waste, Making Legal Provisions for Extended Producer Responsibility, Re-visiting import provisions in SEZ Regulation, Regulating Charity Goods, Banning Import of CRT, Regulating Import based on longer usable life time, Assigning Responsibilities to various stake holders

Administrative Measure such as Development of mechanism for Collection of Waste Electrical Electronics Equipments (WEEE), Involvement of Voluntary Organisation and Other Stake Holders, Launching national Awareness Campaign, Strengthening Infrastructure of Regulating Bodies including human resources, Formation of Core Group at National and State Level, Surveillance of Goods at High Sea, Enforcement of RoHS compliance, Preventing Dumping of used/old equipment

Technological Measure such as International Practices for Management of E-Waste, Sharing of Information/Technology, Reduction of hazardous substances in EEE, R & D Measures.

Informal sector in E-waste management: Challenges and Opportunities

 speaker: Wilma Rodrigues, SAAHAS

The informal sector accounts for 95% of e-Waste recycling in India according to a Mait-GTZ Study in 2007. Its Services extend to households, institutions, commercial establishments and companies.

Saahaa aims at moving towards zero waste which mean employing the principle of REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, REFUSE, RECOVER, REPAIR, RESTORE, RECLAIM. It has worked with GTZ on household hazardous waste and developed a thorough understanding of the flow of E-Waste in Bangalore. It has worked in collaboration with the Indo-German-Swiss e-waste initiative and Partnered with WeP Peripherals and E-Parisaraa. The Alternate business model of the organization includes safe and efficient dismantling in controlled unit, Re-sell on local market (Cu, Fe, Al, brass, plastic and reusable compounds), Proper disposal in controlled landfill for non reusable material, Recovery of precious metals (Au, Cu, Ag, Pd, Pt) only in state-of-the-art smelters. It has registered groups (E-WaRDD and Eco-bird) "for ensuring clean and healthy recycling of electronic waste (e-waste)” from unorganised sector. These activities revolve around Collection from households, networking with other informal sector members. Safe dismantling, PCB sorting and upgrading, Export to International Smelters. The organization assists them in business Plan and CFE. Its Clients includes likes of Titan Industries, Manipal Hospital, Aricent Technologies, State Bank of India, Rotary Club. It is looking for further support in areas of CPCB Clearance, Assistance in marketing, Further Technological Support.

Session 2: Perspectives- Beyond India

Chair: L. Ramakrishnan, Professor INDSEARCH

E-waste and environmental justice in the global electronics industry

speaker: Ted Smith, Founder, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition /

International Campaign for Responsible Technology

Electronics TakeBack Coalition

(formerly the Computer TakeBack Campaign) works on the principle of Take it back; Make it clean and Recycle Responsibly. They have developed “green procurement” guidelines for universities and have organized student volunteers to work on 12 campuses of the University of California.

International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT) is an international solidarity network that promotes corporate and government accountability in the global electronics industry. We are united by our concern for the lifecycle impacts of this industry on health, the environment and workers' rights.

The speaker gave an overview of the practices of electronic industries globally and the problems of trashing of EEE waste in ASIA countries to be dismantled under unsafe conditions. Nations are yet to develop a national approach for handling the waste, which often contains toxic metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. He emphasized the importance of awareness and activism among the consumers that is to simply have “THE RIGHT TO KNOW”. In response to protests against use of prison labour for recycling and recycling of e-waste in safe conditions many corporations like HP, DELL, APPLE and SONY have positively responded by introducing take-back programs. The idea being “WHEN CONSUMERS TALK, ELECTRONICS COMPANIES LISTEN!”

e-waste management in sri lanka; issues and challenges

speaker: wilka ranasinghe, divisional environmental officer, central environmental authority, srilanka

Internationally, the rapid advances of electrical and electronic technology have created a rapid pace of electrical; and electronic becoming obsolete and disposal of these items is becoming more problematic. These used items are being exported to the developing counties like Sri Lanka. There is a considerable demand for low cost versions and second hand commuters and other units in Sri Lanka due to the fact that need Vs ability to pay. Many of these imported items such as computers washing machines photocopiers possess very short life spans thereby increasing the Influx of e waste in to the general waste stream

In line with the 6th Conference of Parties to the Basel convention as a party of the conference Sri Lanka has paid attention mainly to Formulate new legislations, Develop enforcement capacity and Develop infrastructure to handle e waste in environmentally sound manner. The Policy objectives being:

  1. Prevent/ Minimize negative impacts to the environmental and health
  2. Promote integrated e-waste management by looking at all phases of the life cycle of the product
  3. Secure Social Responsibility towards sustainable production, purchasing and consumption
  4. Ensure waste treatment and final disposal of e- waste in an environmentally sound manner

The speaker also furthered the concept of introduction of market base Instruments to manage E waste such as Environment Conservation Levy bill on mobile phones introduced in sri lanka since 2008 which are a source of funds for e-waste management.

E-waste expected to be a big problem in Bangladesh

 speaker: Siddika Sultan, Executive Director, ESDO, Bangladesh

About the organization: ESDO a non-profit organization formed in 1990 is Bangladesh’s leading organization in capacity building and policy intervention. It is committed to environmental justice and governance, conservation and human development. It is dedicated to the cause of Awareness raising and advocacy, Community education, Skills development - theoretical and practical activities, Research and documentation, Policy intervention.

Electronic discards are one of the fastest growing segments of our nation's waste stream. According BEMMA consumption of electronics products in Bangladesh are 3.2million tons per years.  

Analyzing the primary data and information it prevail that each year more than .5 million tons of electronic waste (it includes e-waste from ‘ship breaking’ yard) generated in Bangladesh.

Within this amount of waste only 20 to 35% are recycled and rest laid in to landfills, rivers, ponds, drains, lake, cannels and open spaces. The process of recycling in Bangladesh is very injurious and hazardous, there is no proper waste management guideline or regulation and No specific law or ordinance for e-waste management and recycling. But we have Bangladesh Environmental Conservation Act.1995, The Environmental Court Act, 2000, and The Environmental Conservation Rules, 1997. Bangladesh is a signatory of the Basel Convention 1989, so we need to such actions on e-waste as Understanding E-waste problem, providing science based and applied recommendations for international policy-making, jointly performing research & development projects and capacity building.

Session 3: Cleaning the act

Chair: satish sinha, associate director, toxics link

design for environment for reduction of WEEE

 speaker: Prof. L. Ramakrishnan, FIEMA, C.Env., Distinguished Professor and Head, Indsearch Centre of Sustainability Management (i-cosm), Indian Institute of Cost and Management Studies and Research (INDSEARCH), Pune, India

Waste from EEE includes: a) Domestic Appliances – Washing Machines, Refrigerators, Dishwashers, Mixer Grinders, Electrical Irons, b) IT / ICT – Desk top and Lap top computers, Mobile Phones, c) Consumer Electronics – Televisions, Music Systems, DVD Players. E-wastes: Contain over 1000 different substances many of which are toxic and potentially hazardous to environment and human health (e.g. lead, cadmium, mercury, polychlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs), etched chemicals, brominated flame retardants etc.) There is a need to facilitate the recovery and/or reuse of useful materials from waste generated from a process and/or from the use of any material thereby, reducing the wastes destined for final disposal and to ensure the environmentally sound management of all materials. The “high obsolescence rate” makes e-waste as one of the fastest growing waste streams.

Product Life Cycle includes all aspects from the beginning of the design, manufacture, supply, transport, use, End of life (EOL) product and its journey to landfill or incinerator. EcoDesign (Design for Environment) is a concept of product design that takes into consideration the total environmental impact of the product throughout its life cycle, from raw materials, through manufacturing, marketing, use and to disposal of the product, enabling the design of products with lower environmental impacts. The Six Focal Areas of Eco-Design include Firstly, reduction of Mass of the product through less use of natural resources, less use of processing chemicals, less pollution during processing, less waste during manufacturing, less packaging, less transportation pollution. Secondly no Hazardous substances that means products designed with no Cadmium ,PVC, braided wire, Chromium (VI), PBBE/PBB, Lead, Mercury. Thirdly Design For Recycling meaning Use Mono materials, Use Neat plastics / thermoplastics, Physical bonding / press fitting, Avoid laminations/painting, Avoid insert moulding. Fourthly, Extended use of resources and Lesser EOL waste per unit time. Fifthly, sustainable use of energy resources and Sixthly reduction in Packaging mass.

dell takes strong stand against exporting E-waste

 speaker: anne cheong, apj takeback compliance lead, dell

As part of its Environmental Responsibility DELL believes in green industry leadership that involves Design for the environment, Chemical policy and use, Climate protection, Product recovery and recycling and Sustainable operations and programme. DELL’s lifecycle approach aims at Sustainability throughout the Product Lifecycle encompassing Product concept and design, Manufacturing and operations standards, Customer experience and asset recovery and recycling. DELL has banned the export of non-working electronics to developing countries as part of its global electronics disposition policy. Dell expands bans to include all non-working parts or devices, irrespective of material composition, aiming to help prevent the unauthorized dumping in developing countries requiring that equipment be tested and certified as “working” prior to export. No prison or child labor will be used in the disposal of electronic waste; and every reasonable effort will be made to control all electronic wastes and prevent it from entering landfills or incinerators. The policy also reinforces that electronic waste processed by Dell’s disposition chain is tracked and documented throughout the entire chain of custody until final disposition. Dell Global Take Back Programs: It offers Global Consumer Free & Convenient Recycling since 2006. It Reduced product packaging by more than 9.5 million pounds and introduced Dell curbside recyclable product packaging and become operationally carbon neutral last year.

Life Cycle Thinking in Environmental Sustainability

 speaker: Pranshu Singhal, Head, Environmental Affairs, NOKIA

Some of the sustainable solutions to problem WEEE as adopted by NOKIA are:

Behavioural Solutions; Device reminds to unplug the charger when battery’s fully charged, Reduced power consumption by display save mode, optimized brightness and energy efficient charger , Sustainable lifestyle with eco applications such as concept phones Nokia 3110 Evolve, Eco-sensor and Nokia Remade, Safe & sustainable materials and substances; Collection and management of full material data of all products to ensure product safety and environmental sustainability and, Smaller & smarter packaging; Ecological footprint is being reduced by smaller & fewer guidebooks, smaller/no chargers, recycled & more recyclable materials in the packaging.

Nokia conducted Awareness Campaigns and arranged collection points which lead to collection of over 3 tons of e-waste collected from 4 cities in 45 days, 68000 pieces of old devices and accessories.

End-of-life (EoL) management of Products requires Waste handling requirements to combine global framework practices with local implementation and must include strong Collection network and Infrastructure, State of the art Treatment & Recycling, Other activities like Awareness raising through the whole value chain, Information flows and responsibility sharing between producers, recyclers, authorization agencies, collection centres.

Summary of Discussion and Recommendation:

  • Extended producer responsibility: Restricting E-waste at the very on set of the life cycle seems like the most effective mechanism making producers responsible for designing, production and disposal in a way that the life of products are extended, use of such value engineering. Companies must have a take-back program with accessible collection centres and recycling networks. In this context it is important to define who a producer is within the purview of legislations.
  • Problem of grey market: There is huge Grey market in consumer electronics. The question is how to make them and the free riders responsible? It is first and foremost essential to regulate this grey market. It is important to ensure that the grey market does not get supply of components of its products from big manufacturers if they have to be controlled.
  • Changing technology/Short life of products: Technology is changing rapidly. Recycling makes good sense as there is need to recover and refurbish but incentives need to be provided. Companies instead of putting money into new products, should ensure fixing of obsolete technology, service support at the EOL and a take back policy.
  • Avoid use of hazardous substances: The use of components in EEE should be in compliance with laws. Most companies are complying with these standards acc to their CSR policy. Most of these components also have easily available substitutes. This step is important to ensure least hazard while a products life and even after it.

Some of the recommendations that came out during the discussions included Developing understanding and awareness of what constitutes e-waste and hazardous waste, Phasing out hazardous substances from EEE, promulgating Eco-Design, Eco-labeling, Integration of informal sector into the mainstream recycling industry, Establishment of Extended Producer Responsibility principle, Well enforced Legal Framework to address end of life management, Inculcating a behavioural change by emphasizing of Refurbishment, Reuse and Recycling, Secure Social Responsibility towards sustainable production, purchasing and consumption, Introduction of concept of market base Instruments to manage E waste such as Environment Conservation Levy bill, Strong Collection system, Ban on Import of E-waste, Re-checking import provisions in SEZ Regulation, Regulating Charity imports and Incentives for infrastructure development within the country, Enforcement of RoHS compliance, REACH, Encourage participation of the General public social organizations NGOs, INGOs in the national level programme, Provide incentives when returning waste e-items, Awareness raising through the whole value chain, Information flows between producers, recyclers, authorization agencies, collection centres.

Asia and Africa have become e-waste dumping destination for developed countries. India a signatory to Basel convention has not yet ratified Basel ban. This is coupled with Lax environmental rules and costs, Availability of cheap and trained labour in third world, relaxed SEZ- import/export rules, secondary concern for safety and health in developing countries, transferring of burden, Externalization of costs.

And thus often it is difficult to get protection enforced in a way it is meant to accomplish. The problem is endemic and has various dimensions to it technological, legal, environmental and human rights. We need strict liability laws and, polluter pay principle, strong regulatory body and greater sensitization. Above all political commitment makes the most difference.

Closing address: Mr. Ravi Agarwal, Director, Toxics Link

The day long session covered issues ranging from guidelines and legislation frameworks, advancement of science and technology, impact of human lifestyles, life cycle of products, problems and also sustainable solutions for E-waste globally and nationally. We are today competing in a different kind technology such as the likes of ‘chip technology’ especially in storage devices. We have to remain prepared for many unknown challenges in the future. Suggestions are invited for the Draft regulation on E-waste submitted to MoEF jointly by GTZ, Toxics Link, Greenpeace which is uploaded on Toxics Link website.

Thanks to all those who worked behind the scene to make this conference happen!