Is India the world's latest e-scrap hotspot?

Is India the world's latest e-scrap hotspot?

By Dan Leif, E-Scrap News

Aug. 15, 2014

While sections of China and Africa have long been pegged as "dumping grounds" for e-scrap, India has recently become a bigger part of that conversation, thanks to a spate of media reports that have articulated end-of-life electronics worries in the world's second most populous nation.

This week, for instance, a number of news outlets reported on a study from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ACCII), which alleged the amount of e-scrap ending up in the Delhi area is growing by 25 percent annually.

The group also said 42 percent of India's e-scrap imports come from the U.S. and that "less than 2 per cent of India's total electronic waste gets recycled due to absence of proper infrastructure, legislation and framework." A press release from the ACCII does not explain the methodology used to develop the report's findings.

Those stories came just a week after the BBC took readers to "India's e-waste village," a section of Calcutta where an informal electronics processing sector thrives. And several months after India-based nonprofit group Toxics Link released a report that argued India is on its way to a CRT glass crisis.

That all follows an earlier ACCII report that was reported on by the Guardian and painted a dire picture of the overloaded e-scrap recycling system in the tech-heavy city of Bangalore.

However, not all recent analysis of India's e-scrap sector has been negative. In February, a Yale environmental publication framed the global e-scrap ecosystem as one where innovative startups and established informal collection systems can both safely recycle material and improve local economies — in that story, writer Mike Ives highlights work being done by groups near New Delhi and Bangalore.

In addition, when R2 Solutions, the housing body for the R2 environmental standard, morphed into SERI this June, the group made it clear it was going to start taking an active role helping to push forward e-scrap processing infrastructures in developing countries across the world, and India was one of two countries the group was targeting immediately (Kenya was the other).

According to the SERI website, the group's projects in India will focus on helping small and medium electronics recyclers develop environmentally sustainable practices.

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Yet India has virtually no e-scrap Imports!

The article would be more informative if it pointed out the largest difference between India and "China and Africa".   India has virtually 0 imports of used electronics.  They have never allowed used goods.   The photos of scrap processing in India, and the 25% increase, is virtually all home-generated scrap.  It illustrates the fact that a complete ban on exports will not improve conditions as much as would exports which tie business to proper recycling methods, providing incentives to develop an infrastructure which emerging markets need anyway.