In this age of gadgets and gizmos, many of us do not realize that along with the ownership and usage of these equipments comes a major threat of health hazards. Electronic waste, E-scrap, E-waste or Waste Electrical or Electronic Equipment (WEEE) as it is called, is basically discarded electrical devices. Abandoned office electronic equipment, entertainment devices,Â mobile phones,Â television setsÂ andÂ refrigerators are all included in this category. Along with other issues that have clouded India, including pollution, corruption, etc. Electronic scrap management is yet another growing area of concern.
There are various kinds of businesses in the world, and people have superfluous ways of earning their living. Just as how import and export are major occupations in India- dealing with their leftover scrap is a whole new arena of business. Where does the surplus dumped waste go? Bigger cities hire unqualified and needy people and employ them for tasks such as “quick and easy” disposal of electronic parts that are no longer in use. This “easy” way, is however, extremely harmful. Adequate measures that are environment friendly, cost-effective and technologically-equipped are needed to address the issue. The ill effects of improper management of this waste are not only harmful to the person in contact, but also to the environment. Burning of heavy metals like Lead, Mercury and Cadmium in public or confined spaces leads to excessive soil and water contamination by chemical disintegration. Greenpeace, a leading campaigning organization, carried out a survey and made a documentary to depict the ways in which E-waste was being handled by the non-formal sector in India.
What is our plan of action? How do we know that the unplanned disposal of these electronic devices will not affect the future generations?
If the Government was to be kept aside for a while, the question is, what are we as individuals doing to control this raging monster? About two years ago, Nokia, a popular cellular device company, started a Recycling program for unused handsets. Drop-boxes were set up at multiple locations for people to give their devices a second life. Recycling raw materials from dumped electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem. Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals, which can be recovered for future use. A recycling program should be included in the ethos of the very companies that produce these equipment. By providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. It takes us closer to the environment by managing these risks efficiently.
E-waste is not hazardous if stored and managed in a safe storage space. However, the reckless and careless dumping of electronic waste in the form of junk is posing an even bigger threat to India. A plausible solution to the E-waste problem could be the segregation of work between the formal and non-formal sector and also the involvement of the consumers by educating them on the amount of loss a mishandled air-conditioner could cause.
For a safe and healthy India, the very computer that you’re reading this on needs to meet its end in a more “civilized” manner.