E-waste management in India: RLG’s comprehensive approach to establishing responsible recycling practices
When the Indian government started to enforce their law on e-waste management at the beginning of 2018, they triggered a shift in the Indian e-waste landscape: by assigning a binding responsibility for product take-back and professional recycling to producers, suddenly a big demand for formal e-waste recycling has been created.
The Indian government was aware that this demand could not be met instantly by the existing Indian recycling market - which has been notably dependent on informal industry. The new legislation finally initiated what has intended: a system change.
RLG's engagement in India perfectly showcases what characterizes a systemic approach: it involves all relevant stakeholders in a controlled end-to-end process. For establishing professional e-waste management: this means involving governmental agencies, producers, the recycling and logistics industry and, finally, what is most crucial: consumers. And it also means to design an end-to-end process for many different material types.
A concerted action
RLG's approach is threefold and starts with formalizing the reverse supply chain of e-waste collection and recycling. Collectors are encouraged to get business licenses, train in accounting and documentation and aggregated in larger organizations to benefit from synergy effects. Recycling facilities are equally encouraged to professionalize their business, being audited and contracted to establish reliable material downstream. Today, RLG's network already counts more than 60 collecting organizations, 6 logistics companies, and 8 dismantling facilities and 5 R2 certified recycling organizations.
On the demand side, RLG has pooled more than a dozen producers in a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) to join forces and achieve more significant impact. Global brands like HP, Microsoft, LG Electronics, Canon, Lenovo, Brother are now allied with Indian market leaders like Godrej and Intex to meet their extended producer responsibilities for their end-of-life products.
Thirdly, on behalf of the PRO, RLG has initiated a massive consumer awareness campaign on e-waste together with MAIT, Indian's IT hardware manufacturers association. Since its inception in February 2018, the new campaign "Clean to Green" has toured to 21 cities all over India with outreach to around 1,5 Million people. It includes school and student ambassador programs, street campaigning and events with relevant stakeholders to build capacities and promote the disposal of e-waste through professional channels. Media campaign on classic and social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram help support all activities
From 0 to 4000 metric tons in 18 months... and growing
Thanks to vigorous efforts, RLG India has reported that 4000 metric tons of e-waste that have been collected and treated according to the requirements for professional e-waste management. Taking into consideration the legal obligations, this number needs to grow during the next years.
To cope with this growth, RLG is currently investing into building its network, developing local Indian IT infrastructure and software and continues to finetune processes. The local team is continuously growing to ensure we deliver on our promises.