e-Waste in India: A big problem to solve!

Electronic waste (e waste) is constantly growing and is becoming a serious problem in India, causing environmental degradation. Piles of electronic waste are constantly increasing and it is common to see computer or TV sets piled up on the street in front of scrape dealer shops.

If not recycled or disposed of properly, heavy metals emit toxic substances that burden the environment and the people who live in it. These substances are Neuro-toxic and can have consequences on the nervous system, and Geno-toxic, that can cause serious damage to the fetus of pregnant women.

Instead of proper disassembly and recycling, landfills or incinerators are often used, which contribute to the passage of these substances into soil and water and harmful CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

It is now necessary to combat this problem, which if well managed, can generate wealth and create jobs, as well as an eco-sustainable planet: let us see how in this article...

A constant growth

In the last few years technological production has increased exponentially all over the world, launching various types of electronic objects on the market. These objects (TVs, computers, telephones, mp3s, recorders, electrical household appliances) have a short life span and the market is constantly evolving into a more avant-garde objects.

The repair is often more expensive and less convenient than a new purchase. This generates a great amount of Electronic waste, which is a problem for the health of the planet and people.

E waste data in the world

According to times of India and UN’s Global ewaste monitor 2020 World production of E waste amounted to 53.6 million tonnes (Mt) in 2019 and the worrying situation shows that only 17% of this material is disposed of or recycled in a safe and environmentally sustainable way. Less than 18 per cent of the e-waste generated in 2019 was collected and recycled.

This means that E waste consisting gold, silver, copper, platinum and other high-value, recoverable materials worth at least $57 billion was mostly dumped or burned rather than being collected for treatment and reuse.

Globally, ewaste production has grown by 9.2 (Mt) since 2014 (about 21% more in just 5 years) and is expected to grow to 74.2 (Mt) by 2030.

E waste data in India

India is the third largest producer of E waste in the world, preceded only by China and the USA. India has produced 3.2 (Mt) of E waste only last year and

India is the only country in Southern Asia with E waste legislation, with laws to manage E waste in place since 2011, mandating that only authorised dismantlers and recyclers collect e-waste.

About 95 % of India’s

E waste is recycled in the informal sector and in a crude manner. The process that led to the current situation. It is time to act E waste laws regulation in India.

Since 2011, rules have been promulgated to allow the recovery or reuse of useful material from Electronic waste. To reduce hazardous waste for disposal, to ensure environmentally sustainable management of electronic waste and to manage safe transport, storage and recycling. The concept of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) has been introduced, which makes producers responsible for the disposal of products.

Subsequently, new E waste management rules were issued in 2016. These rules included the figures of the producer, trader, retailer, a re-equip and a producer responsibility organization (PRO: Producer Responsibility organization). PRO is an authorized professional organization that takes responsibility for the collection and canalization of electronic waste.

In 2018 there was an amendment to the 2016 law, with the aim of formalizing the recycling sector further and canalizing electronic waste to authorized and regulated recyclers. In order to undertake the activities described above, the PROs turn to and register with the CPCB for authorization (Central pollution control board), which monitors the work of the PROs by sampling items placed on the market and checking whether the values of substances fall within those established for eco-sustainability.

As pointed out above, despite the laws in force, there are many shops that do not work safely, and there are frequent scenes of computers and televisions covering walkways. The most common methods are still landfill dumping, incineration and inappropriate reuse of discarded equipment. This is because there is not yet a robust waste collection mechanism that implements the rules effectively and encourages activities to become formalized.

In addition, people are not sufficiently aware of the risk of these practices that are harmful to their health and continue to visit local scrape dealers.

How can we solve the problem?

As in any problem that concerns the whole world, or an entire population, the contribution of each person is fundamental. What a citizen can do is very simple:

  • Repair, reuse: when possible repair or reuse your products before throwing them away.

  • Do not encourage unauthorized scrap dealers: the informal sector does not dispose of or recycle safely. Workers are not made safe e-waste workers suffer from stress, headaches, shortness of breath, chest pain, weakness, and dizziness and even DNA damage. It is also very harmful to children who are still growing up.

  • Contact a regulated recycling company and supply them with the product to be recycled or disposed of: In this way you will help to formalise the e-waste sector, something from which everyone will benefit.

What are the benefits of a good e waste management?

The benefits of proper disposal and appropriate e waste management. The impact of these substances on the environment and people is devastating.

Toxic substances and waste would travel by land, air and sea. In this way toxic substances come into contact with us through several different channels, such as contaminated food. To formalize the sector means:

  • Guaranteeing an eco-sustainable environment

  • Create jobs and ensure the safety of workers (whom otherwise work in very poor conditions)

  • Guarantee a precise and controlled product path.

  • And guarantee an exploitation of its full potential, without wasting anything. One tonne of electronic waste contains a very high percentage of precious materials such as gold, platinum and silver.

Appropriate disposal of this waste makes it possible to reuse the materials and generate wealth, without wasting billions of dollars as happens every year for the bad management of recycling.

If you do this, thanks also to your part, we will live on a better planet and our life and the life of our loved ones will be healthier and probably longer.
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