Top Brands “Perform Dismally” On E-Waste Management In India

25-06-14(1)pic16 out of 50 leading companies (31 multinational and 19 national) examined in a study by Indian-based environmental research and advocacy organisation, Toxic Link, were found to be “wanting in their role on e-waste management” and fared very poorly. 

The companies whose e-waste management was found “wanting” include some of the top global brands such as Akai, BPL Group, Blackberry and HCL.

Other globally acclaimed companies such as Apple, Hitachi, Phillips, and Samsung barely managed to scrape through and fell into “not so good performance” category.

Only seven companies (Canon, Intex, Lenovo, Nokia, Onida, Panasonic and Sansui) received green rating, signifying they had taken some good initiatives.

Ravi Agarwal, Toxics Lin k – “E-waste management is one of the most pressing issues in India right now, and it is highly distressing to know that some of the reputed companies openly ignore their responsibilities”

The study examines if the two most important stakeholders – producers and the regulatory agencies – State Pollution Control Boards/Committees (SPCBs/Cs), have been effective in fulfilling their roles defined under the e-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011.

The study saw the brands rated on the basis of five criteria: sufficiency of information on website; ease of accessibility of information; take back system; number of collection points; and information on customer care or helpline provided.

The study reveals that 16 brands, including some leading mobile phone companies, have not set up any take-back system even after two years of the rules coming into effect.

Other findings include:

  • 31 multinational and 19 national companies selling IT, telecom and consumer electronics included in the study.
  • 17 companies in the lowest band red (Bad), another 15 feature in the yellow band (Not so good). 11 companies make it to the blue band (Fair). Only 7 out of the 50 companies included in the study make it to the green band (good).
  • Many leading companies, including multinational brands, are in the red category, signifying bad performance on the defined scale.
  • More than 50 percent of the Indian companies included in the study have failed to set up any take back system in the country.
  • 31 out of the 50 companies do not provide any information on physical collection points for consumers. Only 4 brands have more than 100 collection points.
  • No information was available with the helpline of 72 percent of the companies. Most company collection points did not adequate information.
  • Most SPCBs, the monitoring agency, have no mechanism in place for monitoring the system set up by Producers or the environmental standards maintained by the processing plants.

“The take-back mechanism – which is a system to collect e-waste from the consumers, is blatantly ignored by a number of companies; one third of the brands assessed had no take-back mechanism at all, and more than half of them did not provide any information on physical collection points,” says Priti Mahesh, chief programme coordinator, Toxics Link.

Not a single brand has made any serious efforts to create awareness among its customers, the organisation says.

The volume of e-waste is growing at an alarming rate. Current estimate projects 2.7m tons of e-waste generated annually in India; and UNEP report suggests it will go up 500 times by 2030.

“E-waste management is one of the most pressing issues in India right now, and it is highly distressing to know that some of the reputed companies openly ignore their responsibilities,” says Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxics Link.

The report also noted the huge gap in e-waste compliance between India and the rest of the world. “Most top companies have a global policy on waste management and demonstrate responsible behaviour by setting up efficient systems in most parts of the world. In India, however, the same companies follow a totally different yardstick, which leaves much to be desired,” says Satish Sinha, associate director, Toxics Link.

“We hope the scathing findings of the report serve as an eye opener to the top management of companies and senior officials of PCBs. Both need to wake up and begin fulfilling their responsibilities under the Rules,” says Agarwal.

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