It is estimated that around 95% of Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE or e-waste) in India is managed informally. The sector consists of a widespread network of unauthorised collectors, dismantlers, recyclers and other intermediaries, which engage in e-waste management as a major livelihood strategy. Due to a lack of the most basic environmental, health and safety standards, prevalent recycling and dismantling practices induce massive environmental pollution and have adverse health impacts for India’s population.
Despite many challenges, the informal sector is highly effective in collecting electrical and electronic goods at the end of life. Due to its network-like structure, long-standing personal relationships, the extent of manual labour involved and its knowledge about local e-waste flows, the informal sector presents a tremendous asset, which can be harnessed by producers to fulfil their obligations under the current policy regime.
Hence, building a socially and environmentally acceptable e-waste management system in India requires extensive involvement of the informal sector. So what are the requirements for formal-informal partnerships and what tools can be used to create long-term cooperation?
The study was commissioned by the GIZ advisory project on "Concepts for Sustainable Solid Waste Management and Circular Economy" on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). More information about the sector project on Sustainable Solid Waste Management and Circular Economy can be accessed via GIZ’s website.