Electronic System Design and Manufacturing Sector – M-SIPS, National Policy on Electronics, etc.

Circular Economy and E-Waste


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Circular Economy , E-Waste

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) recently released a report titled ‘Pathways to Circular Economy in Indian Electronics Sector.’
  • This report, developed in collaboration with NITI Aayog, explores the possibilities of harnessing electronic waste (e-waste) to create a circular economy in India’s electronics sector.
  • It highlights the significant market potential, estimated at $7 billion that could be unlocked through effective e-waste management.

Current State of E-Waste Management in India

  • Predominantly Informal: E-waste management in India is primarily informal, with approximately 90% of e-waste collection and 70% of recycling handled by a competitive informal sector.
  • Role of Informal Sector: The informal sector excels in salvaging components from older devices and profiting from repairs. Industrial hubs like Moradabad witness the extraction of precious metals like gold and silver from printed circuit boards (PCBs).
  • Government Efforts: The Union Government introduced the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, to digitize and provide visibility into e-waste movement. However, the informal sector remains a dominant force in e-waste management.

Significance of a Circular Economy

  • Growing Demand: The demand for electronics is increasing across all price segments, resulting in resource-intensive production and high emissions.
  • Circular Economy Philosophy: A circular economy aims to reintroduce discarded electronics, their components, and precious metals back into the electronics ecosystem, reducing waste and promoting resource efficiency.
  • Wealth Creation: Viewing materials as resources rather than waste can lead to wealth creation.ry.

Recycling E-Waste

  • Public-Private Partnerships: The ICEA report suggests public-private partnerships to establish a comprehensive “reverse supply chain.” This chain would involve collecting devices, wiping personal data, and further processing and recycling.
  • Auditable Database: Creating an auditable database of materials collected through this process and forming geographical clusters for device disassembly are proposed.
  • High Yield Recycling Centers: Incentivizing high-yield recycling centers is recommended to extract maximum value from electronic products.
  • Promoting Repair: Encouraging repair and extending product lifespans, possibly through support for a right-to-repair by users, can reduce the environmental impact of e-waste.

Challenges in E-Waste Management

  • Informal Sector: The large and competitive informal sector is difficult to track and regulate, making adherence to environmental norms challenging.
  • Device Stockpile: An estimated 200 million devices remain unused in consumers’ homes, as people are concerned about their personal data when recycling devices.
  • Capital Intensive: Establishing large-scale recycling plants requires substantial capital investment, with challenges in securing stable materials.
  • Material Scarcity: Securing materials to stabilize recycling plants is a complex issue, as materials are scattered and supply chains are unpredictable.
  • Transition from Informal to Formal: Replicating the success of the informal sector in a formalized and reliable manner remains a significant challenge.


  • The transformation of e-waste management into a circular economy is a promising venture for India’s electronics sector.
  • While the informal sector currently dominates this landscape, there is a growing need to formalize and regulate e-waste management.
  • The challenges are substantial, but with the right policies, public-private collaborations, and incentives, India can harness the $7 billion market opportunity and promote resource efficiency in its electronics sector.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch