Stakeholder workshop on e-waste management in Smart Cities

An online workshop was organized jointly by the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser and the Smart Cities Mission on the 10th of May.

The primary objective of the workshop was to develop draft zero of the working advisory for e-waste management in smart cities. To deliver on the stated objective, a pre-workshop survey was circulated to all the participants to understand the challenges and opportunities of the complete value chain of e-waste.  With a diverse stakeholder base representation, this was an opportunity to initiate a dialogue that can sensitise all stakeholders about others’ priorities, strengths, perspectives, and expectations. It is expected that draft zero of the working advisory would direct a few pilots in the smart cities. This would be a dynamic document and would be improved based on the continued feedback of the cities and experts.

A total of 136 dignitaries participated in the workshop. Stakeholder groups like Government, Industry, academia, civil society members, smart cities, and others attended the workshop.


Fig 1


The Pre-workshop survey was responded to by a total of 37 respondents across (i) Government, (ii) Thinktanks, (iii) Research institutions, (iv) Academia, and (v) Multilateral organisations. The survey was divided into six subsections (based on e-waste value chain) namely- E-waste generation, e-waste collection, e-waste segregation and dismantling, e-waste recycling, e-waste transportation, e-waste disposal. Each respondent could submit a maximum of three responses per sub-section.


Fig 2


The workshop started with a welcome address by Dr. Preeti Banzal, Adviser/Scientist G, Office of PSA. Dr. Banzal briefly highlighted the importance of e-waste management and the challenges faced by various stakeholders. She hoped that this diverse stakeholder base would bring convergence of ideas, for identifying adequate recommendations for each stakeholder type.

Dr. Parvinder Maini, Scientific Secretary, Office of PSA said e-waste management is a mammoth challenge and efficient management of e-waste presents an opportunity for meeting the goals of several national missions and promoting resource efficiency in her address. She added that the complex dynamics of e-waste management require clear action agendas, active cooperation between stakeholders, and awareness among the citizens. The interim guidelines should harmonize with the existing processes and procedures, be focused on urban localities, and should be customisable for different regions.

Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary, and Mission Director of the Smart Cities Mission addressed the gathering and said that there should be appropriate mechanisms to collect and analyse the data on e-waste generation and flows. Decentralised community-based management of e-waste can be adopted with retailers and collection networks joining hands. A demystified role and recipe for all stakeholders is required for easy implementation of e-waste management practices.  

The workshop had five sessions. The key takeaways are stated below:

Session 1: E-waste value chain: Challenges and recommendations

1. The existing policy on e-waste management is comprehensive and deployable, however, implementation of the policy by all stakeholders is a big challenge.
2. Circular economy principles should be integrated right from the manufacturing of EEE (electric and electronic equipment).
3. Smart cities can have a base for dismantlers and recyclers. A group of cities or a few states can have an integrated recycling facility.   Different business models should be explored for building such facilities.
4. The role of urban local bodies (ULBs) should be identified in the complete value chain of e-waste management.
5. There should be a mechanism to understand the data on e-waste and the flow of waste in a city.

Session 2: Reclamation of e-waste: industrial activity and the role of technologies

1. Technology developers should focus on the development of clean technologies for recycling.
2. The technologies should be commercially viable for industrial adoption. There should be continuous interaction with the industry after tech transfer for proper deployment.
3. Efficient management of e-waste is a net positive economic activity and so technological interventions should be encouraged and there should be an industry sub-sector on e-waste. The standards should be developed for e-waste technologies.
4. E-waste management technologies need to adapt to the ever-evolving technology landscape. Techno-feasibility studies are crucial.
5. There is a gap in technology development, several types of e-waste can’t be processed by existing technologies.
6. Miniature collection and processing devices have been developed by industry; it can be piloted in smart cities.
7. The availability of reliable data is a challenge in this sector. Digital infrastructure for data management can be used.

Session 3: Smart Cities perspective on e-waste management

1. ULBs do not have a designated role in the existing rules on e-waste management. For waste management in smart cities, their role should be strengthened.
2. The learnings from the solid waste management of some cities can be integrated into the e-waste management framework, such as collection drives, incentives, etc.
3.  The smart procure platform of the cities enables the cities to procure directly from the startups.
4. The e-waste flows of a city should be documented.
5. There should be uniformity of schemes such as deposit refund schemes across the smart cities for easy operations.
6. Recycling hubs can operate as a hub and spoke model.

Session 4: Policy, regulations, and guidelines

1. Expand the definition of e-waste beyond the current regulatory definition.
2. Reduce leakage and increase economies of scale for recycling.
3. Cities can run awareness-generation campaigns on e-waste impact and disposal options. This can be done by partnering with the producers, who are mandated under regulations.
4. Make depositing e-waste more convenient. Collection points such as post offices can be used for depositing smaller equipment.
5. Explore home-grown technologies, develop local technology clearing houses for easy adoption by entrepreneurs
6. Evaluate the economic feasibility of recycling and incentivise local entrepreneurs to take up e-waste recycling.

Session 5: Engaging the informal sector: Social, environmental, and health aspects

1. Civil society organizations can act as useful interfaces for connecting to informal actors; these organizations may help to a) establish trust, b) offer additional benefits and conduct training, or c) raise awareness for proper handling of e-waste.
2. Integration of the informal sector should be done by exploring several context-specific models.
3. Collection agencies may consider taking up additional activities along the e-waste value chain to increase profitability, i.e., dismantling and/or refurbishment as well as PRO/consulting services; aid for relocation.
4. The role of the informal sector requires it to be well-defined in the regulatory framework and policy.

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