India E-Waste Program: IFC & Karo Sambhav collaborate to build a sustainable electronic waste solution for India

IFC has partnered with Karo Sambhav, a collective producer responsibility organization (PRO) engaged in developing and implementing responsible electronic waste (e-waste) management solutions across India for its member producers. Electronic waste refers to discarded electrical or electronic devices, including phones, computers, tablets, refrigerators, air conditioners amongst others.

Karo, focused on the Information Technology Enabled Services Industry, represents several prominent electronic producers including Apple, Dell, Lenovo, and H.P, and will help these organizations comply with the E-waste Management and Handling Rules 2016 through a transformative technology enabled e-waste management and governance platform. The Rules mandate electronic producers collect and responsibly recycle 30 percent of the waste generated for the first two years and gradually increase it to 70 percent by 2023.

 “We aim to be a pioneer in establishing sustainable E-waste management solutions across India and making recycling a way of life,” said Pranshu Singhal, Founder & Director, Karo Sambhav. “We are committed to achieving high environmental and social standards in collection, dismantling and recycling of e-waste and bringing about transparency at every level through the use of technology.”

India, the fifth largest producer of E-waste globally, generates over 1.8 million tonnes of e-waste per annum with a growth rate of 30 percent per annum. With 95 percent of E-waste being collected and handled by the informal sector which uses unsafe methods to dismantle and recycle e-waste, it leads to serious health hazards for value chain partners. It is estimated that 76 percent of electronic-waste workers suffer from respiratory ailments due to improper safeguards at dismantling units. In addition, a large part of these electronic products get accumulated in landfills leading to the deterioration of the environment.

“E-waste management is currently a big problem in the country and the e-waste generated in India is growing significantly year on year. We partnered with Karo Sambhav as our PRO because of our trust in the organisation’s ability to understand the complexity of managing e-waste in India, as India is still new to the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility. We are especially excited about the Karo Sambhav App that we hope will bring in the much-needed transparency in this sector,” said Rahul Agarwal, Manager Environmental Affairs & Sustainability, at Lenovo.

IFC’s India E-waste program aims to optimize recovery of resources from electrical and electronic products, keeping discarded or obsolete electronic products out of landfills, and to promote the adoption of responsible e-waste management practices in India. The program will also roll out a pan-India multi stakeholder awareness campaign to address low awareness levels about e-waste and increase sustainable e-waste channelization among households, companies, schools, colleges, and government agencies. IFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Karo Sambhav and the Indian Cellular Association, the apex body of the mobile industry, to collaborate on developing this sustainable e-waste management system for India.

“The India E-waste program is a part of IFC’s strategy to undertake transformative high impact projects in developing countries to increase access to basic services and to build sustainable infrastructure,” said Neal Donahue, Global Manager of SME & Value Chain Solutions, IFC. “In building a sustainable solution for e-waste management in India, we will address critical gaps in the market by systematically leveraging international and local best practices in the sector.  The program aims to have a positive impact on the environment while creating sustainable livelihoods and improving the health conditions of value chain partners.”

The awareness and engagement programmes aim to reach out to over 1,000 Schools and 2,000 institutional consumers of e-waste across 27 states over the next one year. The India E-waste Program is supported by the government of Japan and the Korea Green Growth Trust Fund of the World Bank Group.