Do you have a hunger for electronics and technology and does it keep on growing? And if Yes, then what did you do with your old stuff or electronic waste? In this technology-driven era, many of us keep on updating our electronic gadgets fairly often and dump down the old one to the heap. These obsolete electronic devices are rapidly filling the landfills of the globe which is a matter of concern.
What is electronic waste?
Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a term for electronic products that have become unwanted, non-working or outmoded, and have essentially reached the end of their useful life. Due to an increase in the rate of advancement in technology many electronic gadgets become junk after the use of just a few years. E-waste is created from anything electronic: computers, TVs, monitors, PDAs, VCRs, CD players, fax machines, printers, mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, television sets, air conditioners, and refrigerators, etc. Disposing of these devices is a challenge because they contain lead, beryllium, brominated flame retardants, mercury, cadmium, and other deadly chemicals which when disposed of in landfills can seep into the ground contaminating water used to supply homes and much else.
Report on e-waste
About 95 percent of India’s e-waste is recycled in the informal sector and in a crude manner and ranks fifth among e-waste producing countries, after the US, China, Japan, and Germany. A report on e-waste presented by the United Nations (UN) in World Economic Forum on 24 January 24 2019 points out that the waste stream reached 48.5 MT in 2018 and the figure is expected to double if nothing changes. E-waste generation in India is estimated to increase by 500 percent by 2020, computer e-Waste will increase by 500 percent and discarded mobiles will be 18 times and TV sets by 2 times in India which is No.5 in generating e-Waste worldwide. Producers, recyclers, and policy-makers need to work together simultaneously to cover this gap in waste-management. Here are a few of the ways to dispose of the electronic waste safely.
1. Sell off your outdated technology
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure as the old saying goes. This can be applied to helping you get rid of your old electronics. You can tap into online sites or even resort to having a garage sale as this will help you get rid of your outdated electronics as well as earning some money. Most electronic shops are always ready to buy your old electronics.
2. Give back to your electronic companies
A lot of electronic companies have an exchange policy whereby they take back your old gadgets when you buy a later version, sometimes offering you a discount on your new purchase. A few recycling companies have set up electronic drop off initiatives along with drop off points for products such as cell phones and tablets after which they are recycled.
Hand over the waste to vendors BUT cautiously!
There are many options related to recyclers and vendors, but make sure to do your research to ensure the vendor you choose for your e-waste collection is reputable and certified. Be aware that there are less than reputable vendors who will strip e-waste of their most valuable commodities, and proceed to dump the remains illegally and unethically. These people with no other means of income will often work for pennies-a-day disassembling, melting or burning your e-waste thus ingesting harmful chemicals and causing others to live in uninhabitable conditions.
3. Donate it
If your used gadget still works—or, in many cases, even if it doesn’t—there’s probably a charity or nonprofit out there that would be happy to take it off your hands. You can start by checking local senior organizations and recreation centers.
4. Role of government and legislature
Recycling infrastructure needs a huge boost and attention from the Government as well as from electronic and electrical product manufacturers. Governments should streamline regulations to promote free and low-cost movement of goods back into global supply chains. Legislation should require recycling standards equivalent with globally-recognized standards to ensure those materials are managed in a socially and environmentally sound manner, ensuring a level playing field for all recyclers. From a policy perspective, there is a need for stricter regulations and surveillance in the implementation of the E-waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018.
In the first place don’t get pulled into the hype of new technology if you can help it. If you do then it’s your role to make sure every time you replace one of your electronic devices, your old one gets recycled properly. Buy environment-friendly products, look for products labeled Energy Star or certified by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). As torchbearers of the planet Earth, it is our responsibility to fight with every single junk that can become a threat to the planet and do our bit to make Earth from toxic to green.
By Raj Kumar, CEO, Deshwal Waste Management Pvt Ltd