New Delhi: Whenever the topic of waste management comes up, non-biodegradable waste, especially plastic, takes up all the stage. Amidst this, what goes unnoticed is dry cell batteries, monitors, TVs, discarded RAMs, fax machines, printers, washing machine, and other electronic items which together make up for electronic waste or e-waste. E-waste generation in India has been on rise. According to a report by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCAHM)-NEC, India is among the top five e-waste generators. The country generates 2 million tonnes of waste per annum and is likely to produce 5.2 million tonnes of e-waste per year by 2020.
Of the total waste generated, only 4.3 lakhs (4,38,085) tonnes per annum (TPA) is recycled. Within e-waste generated in India, computer equipment has a major share – it accounts for almost 70 per cent of the waste material whereas telecommunication equipment covers 12 per cent, electrical equipment 8 per cent, medical equipment 7 per cent and other items make up for the remaining 3 per cent.
Why do we need to be careful of e-waste?
E-waste is hazardous as it contains deadly chemicals and metals like lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, polyvinyl chlorides, brominated flame retardants, beryllium, antimony and phthalates. A long-term exposure to these substances can damage the human nervous system, kidneys, bones, and reproductive and endocrine systems. Toxic chemicals released from e-waste damage atmosphere as well.
While e-waste generation in India continues to rise and pose a threat to human health, the question that arises is what we, as an individual, can do to reduce e-waste. Here are five ways to manage your e-waste:
1. Sell Your Old Gadgets
Let’s say you have purchased a new phone, and your old phone is in a working condition. Instead of keeping it with you, sell it to someone. Why? Thinking monetarily, it will fetch you some money and from the perspective of waste management, it won’t sit in your cupboard and add to the e-waste crisis. Also, someone has rightly said, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’
2. Be A Smart ‘Electronics’ Buyer
Whenever you purchase an electronic item or a gadget, ask the sellers about their recycling or buyback scheme. Some manufacturers offer recycling of your old gadget and provide a discount on the new product.
When I purchased a new phone from Nexus, they took my old Samsung saying they will recycle it instead of taking out the useful parts and dumping the rest. The team even showed me a video of their recycling process and I think it is one of the great options, says Shivani.
3. Upcycling To Your Rescue
A couple of electronic items like compact discs or CDs and DVDs that died with the evolution of digital media can be upcycled into beautiful home décor items like a photo frame, and tea coasters. For tea coasters, either cover the disc with a fabric of your choice or simply paint it. Also, you can break CDs into parts and paste it on planters to add some shine to it.
4. Know Your Scrap Dealer
Have you ever spared a thought to what happens to the e-waste you sell to local scrap dealer? Scrap dealers simply dismantle the product, and take out heavy metals and things of importance which can further be sold for a decent amount. The tit bits of the electronic item is dumped in the landfills. Therefore, it is crucial to know your scrap dealer and how he deals with your waste.
5. Look Out For E-waste Recycling Centers
As per the ASSOCHAM-NEC study, India has over 160 units to process e-waste, but only 22 per cent (4.3 TPA or 4,38,085 TPA) of the e-waste is recycled in India. Reason being, lack of infrastructure, legislation and framework. But you can help improve the status of e-waste management in the country by making use of the facilities available. Instead of giving e-waste to scrap dealer, look out for certified e-waste recycler or nearest collection center authorized with the pollution control board, responsible for safe and responsible recycling of electronics.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.