Everyone is so lost in the urban rat race that we all have forgotten the
world around us. We never stop and think about what we are giving back to the
earth other than the increased carbon footprints and e-wastes. We have all the
bad things to highlight if we start analyzingfrom carbon emissions to e-wastes.
According to a UN report, India is the second largest e-waste generator in
Asia. Unless action is taken immediately to properly collect and recycle
materials, many developing countries will face the specter of hazardous e-waste
mountains with serious consequences regarding the environment and public health,
the report warns. In the year 2009, India generated 5.9 mn tonnes of hazardous
waste, posing serious health issues.
The UN study says that by 2020, e-wastes from old computers would jump by
500% from the 2007 levels in India, and by 200% to 400% in South Africa and
China. The e-wastes from old mobile phones will be seven times higher in China
and eighteen times higher in India.
A recent report by the Delhi based Center for Science and Environment (CSE)
says that apart from generating about 3,50,000 tonnes of electronic waste every
year, India imports another 50,000 tonnes. The study alleges that the
unorganized sector recycles more than 90% of this; and instead of organizing
this sector, government chooses to ignore it.
The organization also says that Attero Recyclingwhich has the only license
in India to import e-wasteis reselling e-waste instead of recycling it. It is
illegally trading e-waste, and such illegal trade results in huge pollution in
the industry. As per the data, India generated 3,30,000 tonnes of e-waste in
2007 which is equal to 110 mn laptops. About 10% of the e-waste generated is
recycled every year; the remaining is refurbished, and the unorganized sector is
right behind almost all of it. Informal dealers refurbish and make money from
According to CSE, the governments new draft rules with regard to waste
management ignore the reality and are likely to be toothless. It is estimated
that illegal import of e-waste in the country stands at about 50,000 tonnes
annually and loopholes in the laws facilitate this. "We need to think how we can
build a new model for waste managers. Instead of thinking about replacing small,
cost effective garbage collectors with big business, we have to think how policy
can legalize, regulate and even pay for this trade to happen not out of sight,
but under our noses," says Sunita Narain, director, CSE.
It is being reported that the free trade agreementscurrently being
negotiated with the European Union and Japaninclude provisions for these
countries to dump their e-waste in India. If this trend continues, India will
soon become dumping ground for the global e-waste. Its our duty to prevent such
a global disaster.