Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) on E-waste in India

Electronic waste, or e-waste, has become a significant environmental and social concern in the 21st century. With the continuous proliferation of electronic devices and their obsolescence, the generation of e-waste has soared globally, including in India. The management of e-waste presents a complex challenge, necessitating the involvement of corporations and government entities. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) have emerged as critical mechanisms to address the mounting e-waste problem in India. This blog explores the role of CSR and EPR in managing e-waste in India, their significance, implementation, and challenges.

Understanding E-waste in India

E-waste refers to discarded electronic equipment, including smartphones, computers, televisions, and other electronic appliances. These items contain hazardous substances like lead, cadmium and mercury, which may harm human health and the environment if not managed appropriately. India is reckoned as one of the world's largest producers of e-waste, primarily due to its burgeoning population, rising consumerism, and the rapid pace of technological advancements. A 2019 report by the Global E-Waste Monitor stated that India generated approximately 3.2 million metric tons of e-waste that year, ranking it among the top e-waste generators globally.

The mounting volumes of e-waste pose several challenges:

  1. Environmental Concerns: Improper e-waste disposal can contaminate soil and water ecosystems and human health.
  2. Health Risks: Exposure to hazardous substances in e-waste can result in respiratory problems, skin disorders, and even long-term health issues.
  3. Resource Depletion: Valuable resources like gold, silver, and rare metals are lost when e-waste is not recycled effectively.
  4. Informal Recycling Sector: The informal sector manages a significant portion of e-waste in India, where unskilled workers dismantle electronic products without safety measures, causing harm to themselves and the environment.

To tackle these challenges, India has introduced and promoted CSR and EPR as key strategies to manage e-waste effectively.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR refers to a company's commitment to operating ethically and responsibly, considering its impact on society and the environment. The Companies Act 2013 in India mandates that companies with a certain level of profitability must allocate a percentage of their yearly profits to CSR activities. E-waste management is one of the areas in which companies can focus their CSR efforts.

The significance of CSR in e-waste management:

  • Environmental Stewardship: CSR encourages companies to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their commodities and operations. This extends to the entire lifecycle of electronic devices, including their disposal.
  • Social Impact: Companies can invest in e-waste awareness campaigns, education, and training, which not only help manage e-waste but also benefit local communities.
  • Compliance: Compliance with CSR requirements ensures that companies actively contribute to e-waste management, reducing their environmental impact.

CSR initiatives in e-waste management in India:

  • Awareness and Education: Many companies conduct workshops, seminars, and awareness programs to educate their employees and consumers about the proper disposal of electronic devices.
  • Recycling Drives: Companies collaborate with e-waste recycling facilities and organise collection drives to encourage the proper disposal and recycling of old electronic equipment.
  • Skill Development: CSR funds are used to train and employ underprivileged individuals in the formal e-waste recycling sector, providing livelihood opportunities.
  • Advocacy and Research: Companies support research and advocacy efforts to develop sustainable e-waste management solutions and influence policies.

Challenges of CSR in e-waste management:

  • Lack of Standardisation: The lack of standardised metrics and guidelines for CSR activities in e-waste management makes it challenging to measure their effectiveness.
  • Limited Reach: Smaller companies may struggle to allocate significant resources to CSR initiatives, limiting their impact on e-waste management.
  • Greenwashing: Some companies may engage in superficial CSR activities to improve their image without substantially contributing to e-waste management.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

EPR is a policy framework that shifts the responsibility for the end-of-life management of products, including e-waste, from consumers and local authorities to producers and importers. In India, EPR for e-waste is primarily governed by the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.

The significance of EPR in e-waste management:

  • Accountability: EPR makes manufacturers and importers responsible for properly disposing and recycling their products, encouraging the design of more sustainable and recyclable electronic devices.
  • Efficient Collection: EPR systems promote organised collection mechanisms, making it easier for consumers to dispose of their old electronic equipment responsibly.
  • Reduced Informal Sector Involvement: By ensuring that producers manage e-waste, EPR can reduce the reliance on the informal recycling sector, which often employs unsafe practices.

EPR implementation in India:

  • Registration: Producers and importers of electronic products must register with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and submit data on the e-waste they generate.
  • Collection Centers: Producers must establish and support e-waste collection centres for consumers to drop off their old devices.
  • Recycling Facilities: Producers must tie up with authorised recyclers for the environmentally safe recycling and disposal of e-waste.
  • Awareness Campaigns: EPR mandates that producers create awareness about e-waste management and collection among consumers.

Challenges of EPR in e-waste management:

  • Enforcement: EPR is only as effective as its enforcement, and in India, there are challenges related to monitoring, compliance, and penalties for non-compliance.
  • Informal Sector Integration: While EPR aims to reduce the involvement of the informal sector, it is essential to provide alternative livelihood options for those currently working in this sector.
  • Consumer Participation: Consumer awareness and participation are crucial for the success of EPR programs. Many consumers are unaware of the importance of proper e-waste disposal.

Integration of CSR and EPR in E-waste Management

To maximise the effectiveness of e-waste management in India, the integration of CSR and EPR is vital. When these two approaches complement each other, companies and producers can create a more comprehensive and sustainable solution.


Producers can collaborate with companies to implement CSR activities related to e-waste awareness, collection, and recycling.

Research and Development

Companies can invest in research and development to create eco-friendly electronic products aligning with the objectives of EPR.


Both companies and producers can work together to advocate for better policies and regulations related to e-waste management.

Skill Development

Companies' CSR initiatives can be extended to train workers for the formal recycling sector, fostering a responsible approach to e-waste management.


E-waste management is a pressing issue in India, and the dual approaches of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) play pivotal roles in addressing it. CSR emphasises corporate accountability and involvement in e-waste management through awareness, education, and advocacy. EPR, on the other hand, shifts the responsibility for e-waste management to producers and importers, aiming to create efficient collection and recycling mechanisms.

Integrating CSR and EPR in e-waste management in India can yield a more sustainable and comprehensive solution. Companies and producers should collaborate, invest in research and development, and promote awareness and education to maximise the positive impact of these initiatives. While there are challenges to implementing both CSR and EPR, addressing them will be crucial in achieving effective e-waste management and reducing the environmental and health risks associated with this growing problem.

Diksha Khiatani

A writer by day and a reader at night. Emerging from an Engineering background, Diksha has completed her M. Tech in Computer Science field. Being passionate about writing, she started her career as a Writer. She finds it interesting and always grabs time to research and write about Environmental laws and compliances. With extensive knowledge on content writing, she has been delivering high-quality write-ups. Besides, you will often find her with a novel and a cuppa!

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