Circular economy and household e-waste management in India: Integration of formal and informal sectors

Diyasha Sengupta, I.M.S.K. Ilankoon, Kai Dean Kang, Meng Nan Chong

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22 Citations (Scopus)


E-waste is considered to be one of the fastest growing solid waste streams in the world. India, the second most populous country in the world, generated more than 3.23 million tonnes of e-waste in 2019 and thus, has become the world's third largest e-waste generating country. However, the documented formal e-waste recycling percentage in India is very low (less than 10%). The existing formal recyclers in India process approximately one-third of the total e-waste generated in the country, though they face e-waste supply chain constraints due to informal e-waste collectors. A significant e-waste fraction is handled by the informal e-waste collectors and value recovery operations. Approximately 1% of the country's population is expected to be currently engaged in informal waste management and value recovery activities and thus, the investigation of the informal e-waste sector in India is of paramount importance. Artisanal value recovery methods pose severe threats to human health and the environment due to toxic and hazardous chemicals in e-waste and their subsequent mobilisation. These drawbacks thus imply that improvements are required in both formal and informal e-waste collection and value recovery operations to establish a more sustainable e-waste industry in the country. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the operational characteristics of both the sectors, including extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes in India. A modified EPR model pertaining to e-waste was proposed to integrate the informal e-waste collectors to the existing formal industry. The results in this work could be useful to establish a sustainable e-waste industry in India.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107661
Number of pages11
JournalMinerals Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2022


  • Circular economy transition
  • E-waste in India
  • Extended producer responsibility (EPR)
  • Household waste in India
  • Informal e-waste management
  • Sustainable human development

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