Tackling the growing e-waste challenge for a sustainable future: Opinion


Written by Eric Ou, Country Head of India, President and Director, ASUS India

The world is battling an evident plastic disposal and recycling challenge and the poor e-waste management is a crisis waiting to happen. The pandemic saw an increase in penetration of electronic devices in the country.

In an era where families opted to have one laptop for a four member family, 2020 saw an unidentified potential of the device, shifting the trend to one laptop per person in a family.

With the growing times and reliance on electronic devices, the manufacturing and consumption of these devices have seen an uptick in the last three years.
But an aspect that we as a country tend to miss out on is the proper disposal and repurposing of electronic devices.

The country’s e-waste problem is growing significantly. With 3.4 Lakh tonnes of e-waste generated in 2020-21, India is the third largest contributor to the e-waste generation in the world as reported by the Central Pollution Control Board.

But what is interesting to note is that India is one of the only countries in South Asia that has a proper legal framework in place since 2011
This framework is a guide to tackle the rising e-waste in the country, transportation, storage and handling of this waste.

While the governments from across the world are working towards a solution to combat this issue, the cause also needs attention and solutions from private players and from the society.

Conscious consumption is a minor step towards aid, an important aspect that will help pave the way for tackling this challenge is to invest in fostering a circular-economy. Opting and contributing to the overall ecosystem can significantly address e-waste challenges.

Device manufacturers need to elevate their design strategy to assimilate recycling and sustainable solutions in their products. Key parts like chassis covers, keyboard keycaps, speakers, peripherals, and adapters can easily be produced using repurposed materials. This is a practice
that we have also instituted in ASUS’s manufacturing plants and operations system.

A notable example is that of the recently launched Zenbook S 13 OLED that is currently one of the most environmentally conscious devices available in the Indian market. The product uses recycled materials in its chassis and includes a high percentage of post-industrial-recycled (PIR) aluminum and magnesium-aluminum alloy in its metal parts.

Not just limiting the company’s efforts to repurposing metal scraps, ASUS in line with this year’s world environment day’s theme to beat plastic pollution, actively works towards integrating post-consumer-recycled (PCR) ocean-bound plastic in the maximum capacity without
compromising on the laptop’s strength and durability.

The company’s commitment to the environment and sustainability is evident in the impressive strides they have taken to integrate recycled materials into their products.

In the last few years, ASUS has incorporated over 1,500 tons of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics since 2017 and used 20,000 tons of recycled paper into their products in 2022. Furthermore, the company has successfully recycled over 40,000 tons of e-waste since 2019, covering 75% of the world.

Additionally, they have donated over 20,000 computers to more than 1,800 non-profit organizations (NGOs) since 2008, promoting digital inclusion and empowering underserved communities globally.

Understanding the gravity of the situation, now is the time for companies and leading manufacturers to start developing a system and introducing innovative solutions that can play a pivotal role in building and transitioning into becoming a more sustainable organization. The premise can be built on four fundamental pillars, namely climate action, circular economy, responsible manufacturing, and value creation.

Focusing on enhancing energy efficiency, expanding renewable energy usage, and repurposing e-waste ,can also help companies be instrumental in creating a cleaner, greener future.

The problem pertaining to e-waste is only going to grow significantly if actions are not taken in a timely manner. And these actions are something that just cannot be relied on the efforts undertaken by the government, it is important for industry players to also curb this challenge at a grass root level.

With the strategic involvement by private players, increasing awareness about the cause amongst citizens and impactful policies, e-waste won’t remain a looming challenge and can be a premise of the world’s biggest example of a sustained and successful circular economy.


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