As technology keeps updating day after day, we too, continuously upgrade our electronic devices to keep up with change. Due to this, the older gadgets end up discarded and disposed of in the garbage. However, these devices contain little amounts of some very precious metals such as gold, platinum and copper.
An entire unorganised sector exists that takes apart these gadgets and extracts profitable materials from them. The unused materials then reach landfills or are burnt. This becomes problematic as, in addition to the precious metals, most gadgets also contain some toxic metals such as cadmium, which on burning releases gases that can cause cancer, and mercury that is poisonous and can cause problems if it comes in direct contact with the skin. Further, there are elements like lead, barium, lithium etc. which are also harmful to human beings and the environment. When dumped in landfills the toxic elements reach the soil and contaminate it.
The Indian electronic industry is huge, and thus the e-waste generated in India is also enormous. India ranks fifth in the world in terms of production of e-waste. In addition to that, another 50,000 tonnes of e-waste is imported to India, which makes the problem even more severe. The e-waste management system in India is pathetic. There is no separate collection of e-waste available, and thus, there is no clear data on the e-waste produced every year.
There is a need to create a proper way for the disposal of e-waste. It is also necessary to spread awareness among the people about the harm that electronic waste is causing to our environment.
Solid waste management is still a headache for the Indian government, and with increasing e-waste, the problem is getting more severe. There exist an urgent need for a detailed assessment of the current conditions. Accordingly, necessary steps and arrangements should be made to ensure proper disposal or recycling of these goods. While technology does make our lives easier, let’s ensure that we dispose them better, so that it does not, one day, kill us.