New opportunities for e-waste recyclers

June 04, 2022 12:00 am | Updated 12:06 pm IST - New Delhi

Draft rules in public domainfor consultation

New approach:Electronic waste collected at a scrap shop in Seelampur in Delhi.R.V. MoorthyMOORTHY RV

New approach:Electronic waste collected at a scrap shop in Seelampur in Delhi.R.V. MoorthyMOORTHY RV

Over the next five years, Delhi-NCR-headquartered Attero Recycling, one of India’s largest electronic waste management companies, expects to invest close to $1 billion in expanding their lithium ion-battery waste recycling facilities.

More than 70% of it is for setting up operations in Europe, the U.S. and Indonesia to recycle lithium-ion batteries premised on the increasing share of electric vehicles in the years ahead.

Nitin Gupta, Co-founder and CEO of the company says that while lithium batteries may be the future for the company, the present is hinged on the growing number of electronic waste that his factory in Roorkee is processing.

Credit, he says, is due to the mandatory recycling targets that electronics-goods makers have been set under the Electronic Waste Management Rules, 2016. From 30% of sales in 2018, companies are expected to recycle 70% of their sales by 2023.

“Prior to the EPR regime, recyclers like us had to pay to procure e-waste. We extract the precious metals and sell them. The informal recyclers use hazardous methods and therefore were able to do this at a lower cost. Even if their recovery (of metals) was low, their costs were low and so profitable, Now with the EPR regime, it’s Original Equipment Manufacturers who are paying for recycling and a lot more is collected in the formal sector,” said Gupta.

The slew of technological processes deployed at his organisation helped extract nearly 98% of valuable copper, gold, tin, lithium, palladium, nickel, cobalt within electronic devices. “We have developed these technologies in-house and have close to 20 patents on these processes. The increasing emphasis on the formalisation of the recycling means that India, in the years ahead, can reduce dependence on imports of precious metals that otherwise could only be mined from foreign countries.”

Last month, the Union environment ministry unveiled a set of draft rules that further incentivises registered electronic waste recyclers. The crucial difference from the 2016 rules is the generation of EPR, or Extended Producer Responsibility, certificates.

Recyclers on processing a certain quantity of waste would be given a certificate verifying this number by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Electronics goods companies can buy these certificates online from the CPCB to meet their annual targets. Recyclers can also directly contract with a company to recycle a certain quantity of waste and generate certificates that can be accessed from the CPCB.

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