India is a major market for both the production of IT equipment and its use. In 2019-2020, India’s electronics exports stood at $11.28 billion. At the same time, it is one of the largest and most quickly growing markets for digital users. In 2020, 64 percent of India’s internet traffic came from its 696 million smartphones. By 2025, another 300 smartphones are expected to be in use, and more of them will be manufactured domestically.
The Launch of Digital India
In 2015, the government launched Digital India, an initiative to improve the country’s digital infrastructure and grow the technology industry. One important component was promoting electronics manufacturing in India. Since the domestic market for mobile phones is massive, key to this was increasing the numbers of phones produced in India. After the duty on imports of mobile components was more than halved in 2015, domestic mobile handset manufacturing output increased from 60 million units to 225 million in 2017–18.
A Rising Leader in Tech Manufacturing
The push to make India into an export manufacturing hub received another boost in April 2020, when the government introduced a Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturers of mobile phones and selected electronic components. Companies making mobile phones would receive an incentive of 4-6 percent based on the product’s sale price. Massive investments in mobile phone manufacturing resulted immediately. Three of Apple’s top contract manufacturers – Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron- who make most iPhones sold globally, plan to invest a total of almost $900 million in India in the next five years. Indian companies including Dixon Technologies and Tata Electronics, also began ramping up their mobile phone manufacturing capacity.
These investments will help make Indian manufacturing more competitive with China, where 1.5 billion smartphones are made annually; currently, India makes about 330 million smartphones annually. India’s strategic advantages include a massive local market and skilled labor at competitive rates. Additionally, companies are actively looking to move production out of China because of economic pressure from the United States and notable problems around labor rights in the industry.
In 2020, Pegatron registered a local Indian subsidiary and announced it would spend $150 million and employ 140,000 at its first Indian production facilities in Chennai. A second facility in the planning phase. In addition to iPhones and iPads, Foxconn manufactures the Amazon Kindle, devices for Nokia, and several gaming companies. Wistron is going to double its production of Apple’s iPhone SE to 400,000 a month.
Responsible E-waste Management: Who is Responsible?
As manufacturing and device use in India increases, it becomes even more critical that India’s e-waste is responsibly managed. Laws mandating that only authorized dismantlers and recyclers collect and process e-waste have been in place since 2011, but the huge informal recycling market remains problematic. The E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 strengthened the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) by regulating the recycling of 21 types of IT equipment including PCs, laptops, printers, copiers, telephones, mobile phones, fax machines and mainframes. The 2017 Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) from 2017 strengthened EPR even further. It mandated that producers need to collect 20 percent of the waste generated by their sales, with an increase of 10 percent annually. The waste must also reach an authorized recycler or dismantler. But recycling is still struggling. According to T.J Chang, Head of Customer Service at LG Electronics India, “The sector suffers from lack of investment, infrastructure and consumer awareness. The existence of a large informal sector and consumers’ expectation of high returns for their old product makes e-waste collection a costly affair in India.”
The Solution for OEMs
This is where Sims Lifecycle Services helps OEMs achieve their e-waste processing and sustainability goals. With sites in Bengaluru and Greater Noida, SLS’s certified facilities and cutting-edge recycling technology enables us to process electronics in an ethically and environmentally sound manner. Our services and operations protect the environment, conserve resources and reduce waste. At our facilities and those of our fully audited downstream processors, we demand compliance to the highest standards of human rights, labor rules, anti-corruption practices, and environmental stewardship.
Learn more about global IT asset disposition solutions offered at Sims Lifecycle Services.