Bihar Industries Association - E-Waste Management As a Challenge to Public Health in India

  1. a) The fastest growing segment of waste
  2. b) Most valuable due to its basic composition
  3. c) Very hazardous if not handled carefully.

 However, the sector is very new with only a few corporate players in India and globally.  Most of the electronic waste management sector is currently handled by the unorganized / informal sector in India. However due to lack of skills, knowledge, awareness, etc., the sector has remained highly labour intensive, environmentally unfriendly and unhealthy. If done in the right way, and in an organized fashion, e-waste management can become a dominant economic sector.

 The purpose of this document is to present a project report on electronic waste recycling as a financially rewarding business. We find that the e-waste business is highly profitable from the economic as well as environmental perspective. There are some established success stories around the world as well as a few in India. However, it is perceived that the unorganized sector has a cost advantage. Hence the organized waste management remains limited. We, at Response, hold the opinion that the costs of the unorganized sector are not necessarily lower than the organized sector especially when we consider three major aspects:

  1. a) Rising cost of labour b) Limited efficiency of labour c) Low quality of the final output

Automated or semi-automated large capacity plants require less labour can consistently work at high efficiency and produce a much better quality of the final product. Therefore, they are extremely cost effective in the long run. Thus, even if there is competition of the unorganized sector, e-waste management can be an economically viable and a high returns business for the organized industry.   

 Fundamental Understanding of e-Waste and Handling Practices

What is e-Waste?

Old electronic equipment that have outlived their useful life are categorized as e-waste.

On an average, in India, in case of mobile phones the useful life goes upto 2 years. In case of PCs, it may go upto 5 years. The life of these equipment is extended due to reasons such as upgrade, repair and reuse, donation to charity, etc.

 E-Waste Categories and Classification

E-Waste is categorized by the government of India under the broad class of hazardous waste. Within e-Waste, there are several categories such as Large and small household appliances, electrical and electronic toys and sporting equipment, tools, computers and related equipment etc. A detail categorization as adopted by the Central Pollution Control Board of India is given in Appendix I.


Composition of e-waste

Electrical and Electronic equipment contains metallic and non metallic elements, alloys and compounds such as Copper, Aluminum, Gold, Silver, Palladium, Platinum, Nickel, Tin, Lead, Iron, Sulphur, Phosphorous, Arsenic etc. If discarded in the open, these metals can cause a severe environmental and health hazard.

Table 1 : e-Waste components and its health hazards if done manually in an uncontrolled and informal method.


Sr. No.


Toxic effects



Irritation of the eyes, Skin, Lungs, Heart.



Inhalation problems, Skin reactions, Sleeplessness, Depression, Rheumatic pain.



Damage the lungs. Bone fracture, Damage to central nervous system, Possibly DNA damage, Cancer.



Allergic reactions, Lung cancer

Nose irritations and nosebleeds.

Upset stomachs and ulcers,

Kidney and liver damage Cause of Death.



Lung effects, Hair loss, Vomiting and nausea, Vision problems, Heart problems, Thyroid damage, cause of Asthma & Pneumonia



Cause throat irritation, Difficulty breathing, Chest pain, Partial paralysis.



Harmful for Skin, Eyes & Blood



Joint pains in the knees, hands, feet   It is Highly toxic



Lung cancer, Nose cancer, Larynx cancer and Prostate cancer, Heart disorders




Collection of fluid in the lungs, Abdominal pain, Fever, Heart and muscle problems, Bronchial asthma, Diarrhoea, Enlarged liver, Burning, Bronchitis, Sore throat, Cause of death




Kidney, Eye, Lung, Liver, Brain damage, Anaemia




Rise in blood pressure, Kidney damage, Miscarriages and subtle abortions, Brain damage, Effects fertility of men through sperm damage, Diminished learning abilities of children




Eye and skin irritations, Headaches, Stomachaches, Sickness and dizziness, Breathlessness, Urination problems




risk of lung cancer




Threat to the liver, Cause of cancer




Decreased sense of taste and smell,, Birth defects, Vomiting, Skin irritations, Stomach cramps



It is difficult to identify the level of content of each metal. For each category of electronic equipment, each manufacturer, each model may have different composition. However based on various studies and experiments, we can establish average benchmarks for some products.

 Table 2 : Average Composition of WEEE PCB and active electronics

PCB and active electronics


20% by weight

Casing, castings, Non EE parts*

80% by








Ferrous Metal











2 %




5 %



Iron                                        5%



1 %


Solder                                      0.66%


Epoxy                                     58%


Other                                      12.2%


Total                                      100%


In reality, all metals cannot be recovered due to technology limitations and commercial viability. In real world, the major metals recovered are Gold, Platinum, Palladium, Nickel, Copper, Silver, Zinc, Iron, and Aluminum. Major non metals recovered are Lead, Phosphorous. Other items are plastic and glass. It may make economic sense to focus on only a few items and dispose the remaining.


Informal  recycler. These metals are sold to smelters. In most cases, the extraction techniques are so crude that the output is also contaminated. Also the efficiency of such techniques is only about 30%.

From the usable part of the collected WEEE, some is sold directly in second hand sale, some is refurbished and sold as a refurbished product, some is donated to charity and some is rented.

Overview of the Process and Plant layout

 The process steps are as under:

  1. Collection
  2. Aggregation
  3. Classification
  4. Processing of different types of classes : Batteries, CRT tvs, monitors, etc are not to be recycled or dismantled in this premises. Such types of WEEE will be offloaded to other registered recyclers who have the facility of handling the same.
  5. Dismantling
  6. Classification of dismantled parts
  7. The process inside the plant includes size reduction, granulation, ferrous metal separation, non ferrous mixed metal separation and non metals separation.

 The separation process does not generate any effluents. It is a completely mechanical process.

The entire process is a mix of manual and automated tasks so that the activity remains economically viable. Manual tasks are all hazard free and all standard safety precautions are taken. Automated tasks are conducted in sealed chambers wherever required for safety purposes. For such a facility approximately 15000 sq ft of land is provisioned.

 Appendix 1

Classification of e-Waste as per Government of India norms



Large household appliances

- Refrigerators and Freezers, Other appliances used for refrigeration, conservation and storage of food , Washing machines, Clothes dryers, Dish washing machines,

- Cooking ranges/stoves Electric hot plates, Microwaves, Other appliances used for cooking and other processing of food,

- Electric heating appliances,

Electric radiators, Other fanning, exhaust ventilation and conditioning equipment.

CAT - A2

Small household appliances

- Vacuum cleaners, Carpet sweepers, Other appliances used for cleaning,

- Appliances used for sewing, knitting, weaving and other processing for textiles, Iron and other appliances used for ironing and other care of clothing,

- Toasters, Fryers, Grinders, coffee machines and equipment for opening or sealing containers or packages,

- Electric knives, Appliances for hair-cutting, hair drying, tooth brushing, shaving, massage and other body care appliances,

- Digital clocks, watches and equipment for measuring indicating or registering time Scales

CAT – A3

Toys, leisure and sports equipment

- Electric trains or car racing sets, Hand-held video game consoles, Video games, -

- Computers for biking, diving, running, rowing, etc.,

- Sports equipment with electric or electronic components,

- Coin slot machines

CAT – A4

Electrical and electronic

tools (except large-scale

stationary industrial


- Drills, Saws, Sewing machines, Equipment for turning, milling, sanding, grinding, sawing, cutting, shearing, drilling, making holes, punching, folding, bending or similar processing of wood, metal and other materials,

- Tools for riveting, nailing or screwing or removing rivets, nails, screws or similar uses,

- Tools for welding, soldering or similar use,

- Equipment for spraying, spreading, dispersing or other treatment of liquid or gaseous substances by other means,

- Tools for mowing or other gardening activities

CAT – A5

Medical devices (except

implanted and infected


- Radiotherapy equipment,

Cardiology, Dialysis, Pulmonary ventilators, Nuclear medicine

Laboratory equipment for in-vitro diagnosis

Analyzers, Freezers, Fertilization tests, Other appliances for detecting, preventing, monitoring, treating, alleviating illness, injury or disability

CAT – A6

Monitoring and control


- Smoke detector

- Heating regulators

- Thermostats

- Measuring, weighing or adjusting appliances for household or as laboratory equipment

- Other monitoring and control instruments used in industrial installations (e.g. in control panels)

CAT – A7

Automatic dispensers

- Automatic dispensers for beverages

- Automatic dispensers for hot or cold bottles or cans

- Automatic dispensers for solid products

- Automatic dispensers for money

- All appliances which deliver automatically all kind of products

CAT – B1

IT and telecommunication


- Centralized data processing: Mainframes, Minicomputers,

- Personal computing: Personal Computers (CPU with input and output devices), Laptop (CPU with input and output devices), Notebook, Notepad etc.,

- Printers

- Copying equipment, Electrical and electronic typewriters

- Pocket and desk calculators

- Other products and equipment for the collection, storage, processing, presentation or communication of information by electronic means

- User terminals and systems

- Facsimile, Telex, Telephones, Pay telephones, Cordless telephones, Cellular telephones, Answering systems, And other products or equipment of transmitting sound, images or other information by Telecommunications

CAT – B2

Consumer electronics

- Radio sets, Television sets, Video cameras, Video recorders, Digital cameras, Hi-fi recorders, Audio amplifiers, Musical instruments, And other products or equipment for the, purpose of recording or reproducing sound or image, including signals or other technologies for the distribution of sound and image than by telecommunications


Thanks and regards

Sincerely yours


Mukesh Kumar
Chairman, IT Sub Committee (BIA)
Email Id : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact : 9431074202

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