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Muskaan Verma
| Updated: 02 Sep, 2022 | Category: Waste management

How to patent E-Waste Recycling Technology in India?

E-Waste Recycling Technology
Reading Time: 9 minutes

The process of patenting that is applied to the e-waste recycling technology has revealed several exciting sides of the electronic waste management industry. Explicitly, the patent activity of global e-waste innovation points strongly to the commoditization of electronic waste; in particular as a source of expensive and functional materials, such as valuable earth metals (e.g. neodymium, lanthanum and praseodymium) that are frequently used in recent electronic items.

Laws and Regulations related to E-Waste

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was implemented in the year 1989 after being ratified by 173 nations as one of the most inclusive international environmental agreements regulating and managing the movements of hazardous wastes, which also includes Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), between different states/nations, and most importantly to check that hazardous e-waste is not transported from more developed like the USA to less developed countries like India. It has prescribed specific responsibilities on the states/countries that have ratified the Basel convention.

Therefore to domestically ratify the policies of the Basel Convention, India and MoEF (the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change) implemented the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016, in place of the E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011.

Under these rules, Schedule I includes over 21 products that are regulated as E-Waste. It comprised other mercury-containing lamps and Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL), along with other such Electrical and Electronic equipment. Under these rules, for the first time, the policy of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) was introduced in India to levy responsibility on the producers. Producers have been made accountable for the management of E-waste and its end-of-life process.

Under these rules, producers can also employ the Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) to delegate their EPR and make sure the collection of E-waste, along with its dumping, in an environmentally sustainable manner. The Deposit Refund Scheme has also been implemented as an added economic instrument wherein the manufacturers/producer charges an extra amount as a bond at the time of transaction of the EEE (electrical and electronic equipment) and return it back to the customer along with interest when they return the end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment. The role of Central authorities/State Governments has been also implemented to safeguard the health, safety and skill development of the labours involved in recycling operations and dismantling.

A stipulation related to penalty/environmental compensation for violation of rules has also been implemented. ULB’s (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) has been given the duty to channel and collect the discarded Electrical and Electronic products to authorised recyclers or dismantlers.

Allocation of appropriate space to prevailing and impending industrial units for e-waste recycling and dismantling.

E-Waste Recycling

E-Waste recycling is the process of reprocessing or re-using the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment); this process is done to recover material from the waste and ultimately use them in new EEE (Electric and electronic equipment).

The process of E-Waste recycling includes: –

  • The process of collecting and transporting the waste
  • Followed by Sorting and Shredding the WEEE
  • Dust Extraction
  • Magnetic Extraction
  • Water Separation
  • Purification of Waste Stream
  • At last, preparing recycling material for sale

The first segregation of toxic components initiates combined processing of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment)[1] in a closed space, which is followed by disintegration with a so-called smasher, after which the second sorting step is done, also in an enclosed room for elements now released but which still contain toxic components, which is then followed by separating out iron-material by using a magnetic separator and finally crushing the remaining ultimate material by a shredder.

That crushed material will be sorted out from various plastics in the first flotation step and following which the second stage of flotation processes is done, during which they are divided from one another in accord with their density. WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) was sorted out in a first flotation process from plastic material since they are much heavier than plastic, which settles on the bottom of the screen that implements a shaking motion. During this recycling process, non-Fe material will be segregated from the remaining discarded material that cannot be used further in the production process. Non-Fe material will be treated further in a processing installation that can segregate non-Fe materials according to their particular specification.

The remaining residual material will either be taken to a stockpile or thermal disposal.

E-Waste Recycling Technology

E-Waste Recycling Technology plays a vital role, especially in the management and disposal of e-waste. About 80% of E-Waste Recycling technologies first come to the public domain in form of patents. In recent times, for the e-waste management problem, the Basel Convention, in collaboration with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), implemented a patenting process related to e-waste recycling technologies. The report revealed that most of the e-waste patents were filed by countries like Germany, the USA and Japan, with China leading the list number of patents among the developing countries. At the same time, no research has been done at a domestic level to estimate the number of patents filed for e-waste recycling technology. From a technical point of view, e-waste patents can be divided into two components:

  1. Material recovery from sources of e-waste- materials such as plastics and metals, batteries, displays, cables, PCBs, logistics involved in e-waste treatment or recycling, such as magnetic sorting, IT-related management of recycling systems and similar items
  2. Methods, apparatus and process involved in e-waste treatment.

Majority of a patent that is filed related to E-Waste recycling technology come under the domain of Waste battery or cell recycling, PCB recycling, Plastic Recycling, Waste Glass recycling or Chips and other WEEE (Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment) recycling.

Patent regulations in India

The basic concept of a patent revolves around the idea of protecting a person’s right over his innovation and creation. It is a legal document granted by the Indian Government or authorities regulated under The India Patent Act, 1970. The primary objective of the India Patent Act 1970 is to encourage new inventions that are useful to manufacturers or have industrial applications. Under the Patent regulation section, 3 and 4 list the non-patentable items.

The procedure of acquiring the patent for E-Waste Recycling technology

The process of acquiring the patent for E-Waste Recycling technology includes: –

  • The process of a patent initiates with filling the fill the application for the grant of a Patent for E-Waste Recycling Technology, permission for examination is essential to be made for reviewing the application by the Indian Patent Office.
  • Once the First Examination Report is delivered, the Applicant of the E-Waste Recycling Technology is given a chance to meet the oppositions raised in the report.
  • The Applicant of the E-Waste Recycling Technology has to meet the compliance within 12 months from the publication of the First Examination Report. If the necessities of the first examination report are not fulfilled within the set period of 12 months, then the Patent application is seen to have been withdrawn by the applicant.
  • Once the removal of compliance and obligations with requirements, the patent for E-Waste Recycling Technology is given and published in the Patent Office Journal.
  • The term for every patent in India starts from filing the patent application is twenty years, irrespective of the application filed under the provisional or complete specification.

Some of the examples of patents filed for E-Waste Recycling technology

  • 2997/CHE/2013 Patent of E-Waste Recycling Technology relates to the recovery of cobalt from the spent lithium-ion battery through chemical extraction and precipitation
  • 3289/KOLNP/2012 Patent of E-Waste Recycling Technology discloses a process for recycling printed wire boards using environmentally-friendly compositions, wherein electronic components, precious metals and base metals may be collected for reuse and recycling
  • 1137/MUMNP/2009 Patent of E-Waste Recycling Technology usually discloses the method for reprocessing and recycling all types of EEE waste plastic, mainly mixed plastic streams.
  • 1540/MUMNP/2007 Patent of E-Waste Recycling Technology is a device which relates to a procedure for cleaning waste plastic, mainly mixed plastic, essentially compacted material produced from film scraps or film remnants.
  • 1791/MUM/2011 Patent of E-Waste Recycling Technology is a domestic invention that relates to a process for the recycling of plastic waste comprising: segregating plastic waste collected from various sources followed by cleaning of the segregated plastic waste to obtain segregated cleaned waste; grinding of the segregated cleaned waste to obtain ground waste.
  • 01842/KOLNP/2004 Patent of E-Waste Recycling Technology discloses a device for handling thermoplastic synthetic plastic components using various tools and the method of heating, segregation and treatment.
  • 204/KOL/2014 Patent of E-Waste Recycling Technology is a process for preparing recycled plastic materials from waste electrical and electronic equipment, like thin-walled housing parts of electronic materials
  • 1751/CHE/2006 is a process for recovering and recycling valuable metals from PCBs obtained from electronic waste.
  • 1714/MUM/2012 shows a product for waste electrical and electronic equipment reutilization and process for preparation.

 

Various methods of E-Waste Recycling

For Proper Management of E-Waste Recycling, many different techniques and E-Waste Recycling Technology is used. Some of them are: –

  1. For recovery of gold and other metal are striped in open pit acid baths,
  2. For Removing electronic constituents from printed circuit boards of WEEE by heating using a grill by honeycombed coal blocks that are coal mixed with river sediment, which is contaminated, as fuel,
  3. Chipping and melting plastics without proper ventilation,
  4. Burning cables for recovering metals, and also burning unwanted materials in the open air,
  5. Disposing of unsalvageable materials in the fields and riverbanks,
  6. Toner sweeping,
  7. Dismantling electronic equipment, and
  8. Selling computer monitor yokes to copper recovery operations

E-Waste Recycling Technology used in the Recycling process of E-Waste

The recycling process of WEEE is pretty elaborate and lengthy and requires specialised types of equipment and machines. The E-waste Recycling Technology that is used during the recycling process are: –

  1. Waste Balers
  2. Waste Conveyors Belts
  3. Waste Separators
  4. Reel Cutters
  5. Waste Shredders
  6. Waste Sorting Plants
  7. Wrapping Machines
  8. Waste Bag Opener

Material

E-Waste Composition (in percentage)

Metal

61

Plastic

20

Ceramics

2

Glass

5

PCB

3

Wood

3

Rubber

1

Other

5

Some of the metals that can be removed from E-Waste are: –

Electronic waste products Metals recovered after recycling the products
Connector Plating that Is Mainly Used In Computer Equipments. Gold
Nickel-Cadmium Batteries Nickel
Lithium-Ion Batteries Lithium
Coatings On Component Leads, Solder Tin
All Electronic Devices that Utilised A Few Watts Of Power Aluminium
Transistorised Electronics Germanium
Plating For Steel Parts Zinc
Glass, Transistors, Printed Circuit Boards Silicon
Copper Wire, Printed Circuit Board Tracks, Component Leads. Copper

Process of Getting Authorisation for setting up an E-Waste recycling plan

The three licenses that are mandated by the central authorities as necessary for setting up E-Waste Recycling Plant or working with E-Waste Recycling Technologyare EPR Authorisation for E-Waste recycling is implemented as per E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, Consent to Establish under Air and Water Act and Consent to Operate under Air and Water Act. These three licenses are acquired through the Pollution Control Committee of the concerned UT or State Pollution Control Board, which have a similar process, including filling out the application, followed by scrutiny of the said application or inspection and at last, grant of said certificate. The application for authorisation requires some mandated documents.

Documents needed for EPR for Converting E-Waste into Business

The documents given below are required to be submitted along with the Application.

  1. EPR plan;
  2. Economic plan for EPR;
  3. Self-declaration in compliance with restriction of Hazardous Substance;
  4. Copy of certificate issued by Pollution Control Committee of the concerned UT or State Pollution Control Board earlier under E-Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011 in case of those recyclers/producers who are operational in India before 01-10-2016;
  5. Details of proposed awareness programmes and allied initiatives;
  6. Copy of the authorisations/certificate from the relevant authorities for marketing various products or for doing the business as given below:
  1. TIN details;
  2. PAN details;
  3. Incorporation certificate;
  4. Copy IEC in case of importers;
  5. Copies of agreement document with Stakeholders (dealers, collection centres, dismantlers, recyclers, treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs) etc.)  

Documents needed relating to Consent Certificate for Converting E-Waste into Business.

  1. Consent to Establish (CTE) acquired by E-Waste Recyclers before the institution of Industry under the Water and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act
  2. Consent to Operate (CTO) acquired by E-Waste Recyclers after the institution of Industry under the Water and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act

The procedure of both the consent certificate is mandated under the Air and Water Act, which follows the similar steps of applying through the online portal of the Pollution Control Committee of the concerned UT or State Pollution Control Board, along with documents/certificates/licenses required by the Central Pollution Control Board, which are then followed by an assessment of an application by the concerned authority. After that, a site inspection may take place by the official government personnel who make the report as per the finding of the inspection, according to which the certificate is granted.

Documents required for consent certificate

  • SSI Certificate;
  • Industry Department Certificate;
  • The layout plan/Site plan;
  • Details on channelisation;
  • Total open land
  • Total constructed area
  • The project report
  • Water usage breakdown
  • DG Specifications
  • Raw material list with daily MTD/monthly quantity
  • Effluent / Sewage Treatment Plant Flow Diagram
  • Boiler type, fuel used, and quantity
  • Specifics on air pollution controls
  • Product/by-product list with daily MTD/monthly quantity
  • Permission from the state’s groundwater authority.
  • Factory/Trade License
  • Authorisation Letter
  • Pan Card
  • The Aadhar Card
  • Municipality or Industry license
  • Registration Proof of unit
  • Site Plan
  • Water Bill

Health Impact of E-waste

Constituents of E-Waste Source of Exposure Medium of Exposure Significant Health Hazards on high Exposure
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers Fire retardants Air, Water, Food and Soil Thyroid Dysfunction
Polychlorinated Bi-Phenyls Capacitors, Lubricants, dielectric fluids, coolants, motors etc. Food (this may result in bio-accumulation), soil and dust Thyroid Dysfunction
Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins Combustion by-products Air, dust, vapour and soil Thyroid Dysfunction
Chromium Corrosion-resistant films, disks, memory tapes etc. Air, dust, vapour and soil Lungs Dysfunction, DNA Damage and Reproductive Health 
Lead PCBs, bulbs, computer monitors, televisions Air, dust, vapour and soil Mental illness, growth, DNA Damage and Reproductive Health 
Nickle Batteries Air, dust, food, vapour and soil Lungs Dysfunction and growth
Copper Wires, PCBs etc. Air, dust, vapour and soil Headaches, dizziness, irritation in the eyes, nose, mouth, etc
Cadmium Switches, connecting components, PCBs, semiconductor chips, Xerox/photocopy machines, batteries, computer monitors, cell phones, etc. Air, dust, food, vapour and soil DNA Damage and Reproductive Health 
Mercury Thermostats, cell phones, PCBs, Computer monitors, sensors etc. Food (this may result in bio-accumulation), soil and dust Mental illness, growth, DNA Damage and Reproductive Health 
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Combustion by-products Air, dust, vapour and soil Reproductive Health 

Conclusion

Patenting E-Waste Recycling Technology has proven very beneficial in encouraging businesses to use new technologies which are more environmentally sustainable and cost-effective. But for availing of these technologies and other benefits, the recyclers must get their business authorised and fulfil the environmental compliance. 

Read our Article:How to set up a Lithium-ion battery recycling business in India?

Muskaan Verma

Muskaan has completed her BA.LLB and LLM, gaining vast legal knowledge and expertise. She has keen interest in legal research and content writing, having prior experience of publishing numerous research papers in international journals on Environmental Laws and Corporate Laws.

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