Introduction There is no doubt that information technology has revolutionized our way of living and has impacted our lives in a positive way. In the past ten years, there has been a tremendous growth in information technology. Electronic products like computers, tablets, mobile phones & laptops have become an integral part of our life. Because of high growth rate in the electronics industry, electronic products are becoming obsolete within a few months of their usage.
This has resulted in the generation of an enormous amount of e-waste. According to a report by MOEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests), e-waste from old computers and mobile phones would jump by 500% and 1800% as compared to 2007 levels by 2020 in India. But before that, let us understand what exactly e-waste is, what are its implications and how companies are trying to curb this by using Green IT. Scenario of e-waste in India: Electronic waste (E-waste) in simple terms, refer to the discarded electronic devices.
E-waste includes waste generated by discarding of equipments like computers, tablets, mobile devices, washing machines, televisions, refrigerators and many other consumer durables. At present, India generates approximately 400000 tones of e-waste annually, which is expected to grow at a rate of 10-15 % per year. In spite of laws and regulations, additional 50000 tonnes of e-waste was illegally imported in our country . E-waste hazards: Electronic equipments are made up of many components, which contain toxic substances, which can impact the human health adversely.
E-waste generated due to disposal of computers forms the major portion of total e-waste generated in our country due to the rapid growth in the software sector as well as increased penetration of IT in our country. Listed below are the toxic constituents of a computer . Due to improper extraction of metals from the electronic equipments during recycling, these toxic elements enter into the bloodstream of extraction workers, resulting in respiratory and digestive problems, apart from causing cancer and bronchitis.
Further, these toxic elements also adversely affect our environment by releasing poisonous gases into atmosphere, toxic leaching into earth by land filling of e-waste, contamination of water resources etc. Value and Hazard of e-waste  Thus, e-waste not only affects the extraction workers, it also impacts our lives indirectly by causing severe irreversible environmental damages. In the next section, we will find out who are the major stake holders in the e-waste.
Stakeholders and e-waste flow cycle: Major stakeholders in the e-waste flow cycle are government, producers of electronic equipments, consumers in the form of households and corporates, recyclers in the informal as well as formal sector, scrap collectors, local government bodies and NGO’s like saahas and e-waard. One of the most important questions is – Where does e-waste go? If we look at the e-waste flow cycle in our country, most of the e-waste that is generated is finally dumped in the landfills. E-waste is produced by domestic consumption, corporate, manufacturers and through import.
Commercial and manufacturing e-waste is auctioned in the market. 90% of organizations don’t have any policies regarding disposal of e-waste. After auctioning, e-waste recyclers extract the working components and expensive metals from the e-waste and the rest of the e-waste is dumped in the landfills. Refer below table for trading price for some components in the unorganized sector . Refer the complete e-waste flow diagram for detail understanding. E-waste challenges: Management of e-waste is a challenging task, considering the quantum of e-waste production and lack of environmentally sound technology to dispose e-waste efficiently.
Key challenges are: i) Reducing e-waste through recycling, recovering and reusing ii) Reducing use of toxic substances in the manufacturing of electronic equipments iii) Developing technologies to recycle e-waste efficiently and without causing environment degradation iv) Fixing responsibility for e-waste on one of the stakeholders Green IT: One way by which companies can incorporate social and environmental considerations into their core business practices is by ‘Green IT’.
Green IT helps in minimizing the negative impact of use of IT on the environment and using IT itself to solve environment related issues. Overall assessment of Green IT consists of six dimensions: By implementing Green IT, companies are able to reduce their total annual energy consumption by 20-30%. During the past 12 years, server efficiency has improved by 75 times. It is estimated that by 2014, energy and infrastructure cost will be 75% of total IT operational cost, while software will be only 25% of that cost. Objective of the project: In India, many organizations make use of IT in their routine business.
Further they routinely upgrade their computing equipments which are a major component of e-waste generated in our country. The intent of this project is to understand the management of e-waste in large organizations, the role of recycling firms, government policies and finally recommendations to reduce e-waste. For collecting primary data regarding e-waste, we have chosen CTS (IT organization) and Saahas (NGO). Cognizant with its ‘Green IT’ initiative have consistently focused on responsible waste management whereas Saahas is a leading NGO on e-waste management in Bangalore.
Based on personal visits, video calls, telephonic interviews, personal interviews and discussions with industry veterans in the above organizations, we were able to understand the gravity of the e-waste problem in our country and finally our recommendations are based on the analysis of the primary data collected from these firms and various other secondary resources. E-waste management- Case Study on Saahas:- India is the second largest e-waste generator of Asia. According to an estimate India generated more than 400,000 lakh tonnes of e-waste in current year which is equivalent to approx 130 Million laptops.
India E-waste management Sector is divided into two parts Organized sector and unorganized Sector. More than 90 percent of the e-waste generated in the country is recycled and disposed by unorganized sector. The unorganized sector mainly consists of the urban slums of the metros and mini-metros, where recycling operations are carried out by the unskilled employees using the most rudimentary methods to reduce cost. Those methods are dangerous for the health for the people, who are involved in this kind of operation. 10% e-waste is managed by organized sector in India.
The organized sector has to face lots of competition from the unorganized sector. As they are formal organizations they have to take licenses from the government to run their operations smoothly. Their business model mainly focused to reduce hazards of e-waste recycling process compare to generate more revenues The difference between organized and unorganized sector is mentioned in following table:- Case Study: Saahas As we have seen difference between formal and informal sectors there are many e-waste management firms, NGO who are working legally and ethically to curb the e-waste.
These firms includes Saahas, an NGO in Bangalore, E-wardd an E-waste recycling firm and many others. For our interest we have studied Saahas and their operations for e-waste management. Saahas is an NGO which was established in Bangalore and from last 6-7 years they are working closely with KSPB (Karnataka state pollution board), GTZ and EMPA to study various issues related to e-waste generation, flow, recycling and final disposal. Saahas has more than 200 e-waste receptacles set up at different location. IIMB is also one of their receptacles as mentioned on their web-site.
Methodology adopted:- Bangalore is known as Silicon Valley of India. Due to increase in number of software firms e-waste has become the new threat for Bangalore. Saahas methodology involves figuring out e-waste stakeholders and generators to look at the quantities of e-waste generated by them and after that working with recyclers and scrap-dealers to monitor their disposal system and give them guidance regarding modern methods of e-waste management. On the generation front, Saahas used to target the big auctions in Bangalore through which all the large companies used to sell their e-waste.
On recycling units they used to float a questionnaire asking various questions related to e-waste disposal methods. They used to guide the e-waste scrapper how to extract precious materials from the e-waste collected from the auction process rather to dump it. They also gave them details about methods adopted in western countries. They also informed them that corporate offices are now interested to help the recyclers to get access to better technology by which they can eliminate pollution caused by recycling process. This approach is helping Saahas to gain confidence of scrap-dealers and recyclers.
Activities involved:- Saahas monitors three major activities of E-waste management Tracking generation places of e-waste Distribution and flow of e-waste Monitor recycling and disposal process Tracking generation places of e-waste:- Generation of e-waste comes from the hardware manufacturers and software companies which are more than 1500 in Bangalore. There are some unclaimed baggages also which comes to scrap dealers. The amount of these unclaimed baggages is very insignificant. Saahas track these e-waste generators. Distribution and flow of e-waste:- Major distribution is done by auction process now days.
The bidder is mainly big scrap vendors or middleman who purchase scrap for resell in the non-branded market. The scrap is sorted and segregated and then reusable component is sent to secondary markets for resell. The other components are then sent for recycling processes. Monitor recycling and disposal process:- This process involves segregation, dismantling, recycling and disposal. In many cases child labor is involved in this disposal and recycling process, Saahas used to look into this matter and discussed it with the recyclers that how much hazardous it is for the children and take proper initiative against those e-waste management firms.
Saahas used to share the modern methods with those firms so that recycling can be done without harming environment and people So in our case study we find out how Saahas is involved in proper e-waste management with involving itself from e-waste generation process to disposal process. In this work they are associated with big IT firms, formal/informal scrap dealers and recycling firms. Government policies for E-waste management:
According to the information collected from the research conducted by Toxics Link (Toxics Link is a Delhi based NGO, dedicated to bring toxics related information into the public domain) we found that before the notification of Ministry of Environment and Forest on e-waste rules there was no separate policy to curb e-waste management and it used to come under the Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, was the main controlling agency at the Central level for that rule.
The Environment (Protection) Act 1986 was a major (umbrella) act for that and covers broad guidelines to address the issues related to hazardous and other waste. Civil society organizations in India raised their voice for a separate regulation on e-waste, and have discussed with government of India officials for an appropriate regulation for management of e-waste in India. The group recommended that there should be a unique common platform for all stakeholders to come together so that all e-waste issue can be handled on a common ground.
A core group comprising of members from NGO’s like Greenpeace, MAIT, GTZ and Toxics Link worked hard to prepare a framework for the regulation of e-waste and on the basis of that framework, Ministry of Environment and Forest issued a notification with title as e-waste (handling and management) rules on 12th may 2011. These rules shall come into effect from May 1, 2012. These rules will apply to every producers, consumers, consumers involved in sale, purchase of electrical and electronics items. In these rules responsibilities of each and every stakeholder which is a part of e-waste cycle has bound to follow some responsibilities.
As compare to India E-waste management laws are very strict in countries like USA and china and EU. Indian laws are not in practice properly as before 2012 there was no such strict measure on e-waste. Developed countries are following these law practices from many years and quite successful to curb the reverse effects of e-waste disposal and recycle process. Business e-waste disposal mechanisms Business and government organizations are the biggest consumers of IT infrastructure and contribute to 70% of the waste generated from IT hardware. It is estimated that 94% of the organizations do not have any policies on e-waste disposal.
Also, 80% of the discarded computers end up as e-waste through the unauthorized market. Many old computers still continue to be stored on the office premises. Even in the government sector, most of the junk electronic items are auctioned off to scrap vendors than to formal recyclers. Regulations: On 1st May, 2012, the Ministry of Environment and Forests issues new rules for disposal of e-waste. These rules establish an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) wherein producers have to bear the cost of collecting and disposing their products in an eco-friendly manner.
Companies like Dell and HP have programs where they offer free collection and recycling to individual and corporate customers. By 2011, HP had served 1821 corporate clients across 150 cities using their e-waste pick and disposal option. A number of formal e-waste disposal providers have come up in the recent past that specifically target corporate clients. They have procured the necessary environment clearances from BEE and have built a sustainable business model. This section examines the notable measure taken by some firms to manage their e-waste disposal as well as efforts to reduce e-waste generation.
TCS e-waste measures: TCS has implemented an e-waste management policy, which sets guidelines for handling, disposing out dated electronic and electrical equipment and procurement of new ones. Some of the key aims of the policy are: To procure IT infrastructure from USEPA/Energy-star labeled vendors who will also take back e-waste Extend the useful life of computers to 4-5 years to reduce e-waste generation To attain 100% environmental-friendly e-waste disposal by adhering to WEEE directives To dispose e-waste only through handlers authorized by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)
IBM e-waste measures: When electronics arrive at an e-waste disposal facility on its premises, it assesses their potential value. If they can be redone and resold, they are sent to a refurbishing facility. Around 90% of the electronics assets within IBM pass this test. It inspects electronics for storage devices like hard drive and wipes data off them, even if they’ve been cleared before disposal. Unusable equipment is dismantled and precious metals such as gold are extracted from them. Less than 1% of this is incinerated for put in a landfill.
E-Waste Management and Green IT at Cognizant Cognizant Technology Solutions, one of the fast growing fortune 500 companies has come a long way since its inception in 1994. Today with strength of 156,700 employees and another 12000 employees adding to their pool every year the management of Cognizant has taken initiatives in line with its responsibility to the sustainability of the environment. As part of our study we have presented below the major insights about the currently implemented and the road ahead intended by Cognizant with respect to E-waste Management and Green I.
T. Hardware Requirements: In order to support the strength of 150,000 employees, Cognizant has currently deployed about 100,000 personal computers for its office operations. These machines with a replacement cycle on an average of 4-5 years are replaced at a rate of 25,000 computers annually. Also their efficient power management through the implementation of Grid computing wherein the computer resources are shared over the internet aids in utilizing the idle CPU power efficiency.
They have harnessed the advantages of server virtualization in order to reduce on the refresh ration and the numbers of servers have been reduced by one fifth times from about 300 to 80 in a span of 4 years. They have a concrete goal to reduce the impact due to the data centres and to operate with the help of just 4 data centres through consolidation and virtualisation techniques. As a step forward, they have scaled down the number of operational data centres to 36 from 44. E-Waste Management In an interview with Mr.
Alan Master, Senior Manager, Green Computing Division, we enquired about the e-waste management practices followed by CTS. On what CTS is doing to reduce the amount of e-waste generated, Mr. Master said that the guiding philosophy has been: “Best way to not generate e-waste is to not buy what is not needed” According to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency the recycling is to be handled only by certified E-recycling firms. Cognizant also outsources the process of recycling to external E-recyclers. Also, due to a recent ruling by the Government, OEMs have to take back their products for recycling at the end of their useful life.
One of the pioneers in this has been HP which collects the used cartridges from its corporate customers. Following this trend their product procurement partner DELL has agreed on a deal to take back all the used PCs for recycling. CTS does not get back any money from Dell for this, but it does receive the intangible benefit of a more fruitful collaboration with Dell in the future. Also, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility they have donated a proportion of their personal computers to the students of the economically weaker sections through the Cognizant Foundation – Outreach.
The eco-friendly e-waste recycling techniques used by OEMs like Dell have been highlighted in the Appendix. Green Computing: Cognizant has a separate team which is working on improving their Green IT capabilities. In order to understand the impact of the savings realised due to the efficient power saving activities, they have put a policy of weekly audit of the power savings report across the organization. Though they haven’t invested substantially to replace their servers with the expensive yet powerful energy efficient servers they are trying to mitigate this through operation optimizations. pillars of Green Strategy: The diagram below summarizes the 5 key goals of CTS’ Green IT strategy: The above goals have been realized using the following Green IT techniques, in which CTS is now a pioneer: Server Efficiency: Existing rack servers can be replaced with blade servers. They occupy much lesser space and consume 97% lesser electricity as compared to the former. Virtualization: Data centers are utilized to only 20% capacity at any given time, and consume 100% energy. Virtual servers share resources with other servers. They help cut down energy, housing and maintenance costs.
HVAC Usage: Installation of latest cooling equipment helps in significantly reducing energy usage. It has been observed that when all the above factors have been optimized, upgrading their cooling equipment significantly reduced their energy usage. Cloud Computing: By deploying IT services on the cloud that is managed more efficiently by third parties, cloud computing acts as an effective carbon reduction strategy. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): The BYOD concept will encourage employees to bring their personal computing devices to office, hence reducing the requirement for PCs in the organization.
The overall impact is that employees are using the same machine for personal and office use, instead of having one for each; hence reducing overall PC consumption. Desktop Power Savings through OS Efficiency: It was observed by the Green IT team that only 12% of the Windows XP PCs went to sleep when not in use because it did not have default power savings features. Windows 7 on the other hand has these default power options. It was observed that 36% of Win7 PCs went to sleep automatically after OS upgrade. It was estimated that if systems are put in sleep mode for 12 hours a day, it would save $5/month per PC in power expenses.
Microsoft SCCM R3: Microsoft’s System Centre Configuration Manager empowers the centrally located systems administrators to control the policies on the client PCs on the network. It also provides a set of recommendations on the policies that can be used to reduce the power consumption. From the server end when there is reduced (especially during the night) few of the servers are switched down to low power state and the virtual machines are provisioned through fewer hosts. Results: The Green initiatives mentioned above have helped CTS achieve significant efficiencies.
They have: Reduced per capital carbon emissions by 32% Reduced per capital carbon emissions by 32% Reduced per capital energy consumption by 34% Reduced paper consumption by 64% All figures are with respect to 2008 levels. Because of the above energy management measures, CTS has achieved a $22 million saving in energy expenses and about 22,000 metric tons of carbon. Looking Forward: Going ahead, CTS aims to achieve the following targets: Reduction of per capita carbon emissions by 40% from 2008 levels by 2015 Energy Efficiency at 1. 2 kwh/sqft/month Zero water discharge at all campuses 00% recycling of paper in all major offices Recycling of food waste in all major campuses Focus on the supply side by sourcing energy from a mix of wind, bio-mass and solar projects Reducing per capita water consumption and recycling food waste to produce bio-fertilizers Recommendations & Conclusion From our study on the current E-waste management and Green IT practices in India below are our recommendations that can accelerate the current efforts by the organizations and Government: To increase the adoption of Green IT practices, it is essential to promote the initiatives as part of the culture of the organizations.
The increased awareness and responsible usage within the organization will reduce the Carbon footprint. Through the use of appropriate software (eg: Open Source) which can run efficiently on the existing systems the redundancy cycles of the equipment can be increased. Further, through operational policies such as working in shifts can enable the users to share the same equipments and hence lowering the e-waste footprint. Organizations should develop a green office program and increase awareness through sessions on E-waste policies within the organization.
The Organization’s responsibility ends at the point when they transfer the e-wastes to the recyclers. To ensure that their efforts don’t end in vain, they should get into partnerships only with the authorized recyclers who have the capability of Zero Dumping technologies. To ensure this they should insist on the certification from the vendor who manages the E-waste. The Equipment Manufacturers should be encouraged to implement take- back policies, so that the entire loop of the product life-cycle is closed with recycling. HP has been a pioneer in this aspect and similar adoptions by other OEMs will prove beneficial.
Organizations should implement systems like the Microsoft SCCM to control power management policies and track the progress through weekly reports. Also there should be tracking-systems on the year-on-year generation of E-waste and the amount of savings obtained through the current , through E-waste accounting. Government should encourage a collaborative environment, wherein the organizations can learn about the best practices adopted in other countries (eg: most of the European nations have advanced E-waste Management techniques in place) to enable the penetration of similar practices over here.
Further, to encourage the small players to take up green initiatives the potential of establishing Sustainable Industry Partnerships should be encouraged. The major issue in this sector with respect to the Indian context is due to the presence of the unorganized players. They are not equipped to handle the wastes with clean results and hence increasing the intensity of the issue. Till recently, the absence of a binding law to regulate the policies of the organization was a major setback. But, with the recent enactment of the E-waste Handling and Management tools this scenario is expected to change in the near future.
Further, organizations should understand that “Unless measured, it can’t be managed”. Hence an internal auditory control on the performance of the current policies and a clear vision to the next step forward is essential. The means of reducing new procurements and extending the lifecycle of the existing products to obtain maximum efficiency should be the focus going forward. References:  Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (The EU and India: sharing best practices Authors: Satish Sinha, Priti Mahesh, Erik Donders (Annex 1),Wim Van Breusegem (Annex 2))  http://ecoreco. om/pdf/about-e-waste. pdf  http://www. toxicslink. org/? q=media/articles/sustainable-e-waste-management  http://envfor. nic. in/downloads/rules-and-regulations/1035e_eng. pdf. Appendix: E Cycle Recovery Process The recycling process mentioned in the following diagram is practiced in different recycling firms. Dell (The Computer manufacturer) got licensed from Government of India to recycle the e-waste and they follow the same process. E cycle Recovery Process After the recovery of different materials and components, these materials and components are handled differently.
The handling of different materials and components are as follows:- Plastic All plastics are generally sent to a recycler who uses plastic to manufacture items such as plastic sleepers and other accessories. Metal Scrap metals are usually sent to a recycler who first separate ferrous and non ferrous materials with some magnetic system and then used shredder to get the resulting products. This product is used in manufacturing purpose in industries like steel. Glass Computer monitors and televisions contain CRT glass, which incorporate many hazardous materials like Lead.
Lead is poisonous to the nervous system and can remain in the human body for many years. CRT tubes contain phosphor which is also a poisonous material. This CRT monitor is sent to South Australia where those are recycled and then used in the manufacturing of new CRT and television systems. Mercury Mercury which is highly toxic is found within many e-waste items. Mercury has been known to cause damage to the lungs, kidneys, nervous systems. Mercury containing devices such as tubes and lamps are forwarded to Environment protection Agency ( EPA) approved mercury recycling plant.
Here they apply technology that captures the mercury for use in different applications like dental amalgams and fertilizer products. Wood Wood is generally used to find in older televisions and speakers, wood is sent to recycling companies who either shred it for use as mulch or use different innovative technology and mix it with other waste products to use as a fuel source. Printed Circuit Boards Circuit boards are generally sent to ISO 14001 accredited companies. ISO 14001 take care of Environmental protection related issues.
At those companies these circuit boards can be processed with the help of specialized smelters to recover non renewable resources such as copper, gold, silver and other precious metals. Hard Drives Hard drives are shredded and sent to an aluminum foundry where they are processed into aluminum ingots which are used mostly in the automotive industry. Toner and Ink Cartridges Empty cartridges are put in a sealed box and sent to industry recyclers. Few of these are remade into new cartridges, and the rest of them are separated into plastic and metal and sent through the normal recycling route.
Batteries Societe Nouvelle D’affinage Des Metaux (SNAM), a French-based recycling company that meets the EU standards accepts NiCa, NiH and LiI batteries for recycling. They remove excess plastic and place the metals in pots for smeltering. This process removes cobalt, cadmium, nickel and steel for reuse in battery production and fabrication of stainless steel. CD ROMs, Sound & Memory cards To maintain copyright and security, CDs and storage cards are shredded and sent to recyclers of plastic and metal.