E-waste is comparatively a new addition to the ever-growing hazardous waste stream in India. E-waste or electronic waste is labeled as Desktops, Laptops, CPU, Paper shredders, Memory cards, Televisions, DVD players, VCRs, Stereos, Copiers, Fax Machines, Mobiles, Power cords, GPS Devices, Speakers, and other Electronic Paraphernalia, which has become outdated, have ceased to function or are not needed. In other words, it includes all the superfluous electronic and electrical pieces of equipment. Large sections of E-waste are internally generated. India is also facing mammoth challenges in the management of ever-growing E-waste. Some of our E-waste management practices are harming adversely to our environment. Unsafe disposal of E-waste affects human health. In order to stay away from adverse future consequences, there is an urgent need to tackle this menace at the earliest.
Sources of E-waste
Electronic waste mostly computer waste is budding exponentially in volume because of increasing demand for information technology and its relevance in the national development. Various government departments, public, as well as private sectors, simply throw away their high-speed feeding old electronic appliances such as computers, telephones, etc.
In India, two chief sources for e-waste are acknowledged:
· Domestic e-waste.
· Discarding of e-waste from other parts of the world.
Domestic e-waste is engendered from following sectors:
· Individual household and modest business
· Large business, Institutions, government houses, and Foreign Embassies
· PC producer and retailers
· Secondary market of old PCs
Pity is that Individual households have the slightest contribution in the origination of e-product obsolescence. It is the illegitimate dumping of trash computers from other parts of the world that produce the predicament of managing e-waste. Subordinate processing cost, lower labor cost and lack of environmental decree enforcement are the major reasons for increasing unlawful trading of e-waste. The accessible management practices related to E-waste in India are reasonably meager and have the aptitude to risk both human health and the environment.
Quantification of E-waste:
The exact magnitude of the e-waste cannot be determined because there is no reliable parameter to estimate how much of e-waste is generated and how much is imported to India. At the same time, it is still difficult to get the exact statistics regarding where e-waste is getting recycled since most of it is handled by the unrecognized sector.
E-Waste statistics in India:
· India fifth biggest generator of e-waste in 2014.
· 76% of e-waste workers in India suffering from respiratory ailments
· The total e-waste in India has been anticipated to be 1, 46,180 metric tons per year
· The e-waste refuse stream is growing at a rate of 5-6 % per year, making it the fastest growing refuse problem in the world.
· The average life expectancy of a new PC is now less than two years
Role of the Government
Governments should set up regulatory agencies in each district, which are vested with the responsibility of coordinating and consolidating the regulatory functions of the various government authorities regarding hazardous substances with the provision of severe punishments. Encouragement of research into the development and standard of hazardous waste management, environmental monitoring and the regulation of hazardous e-waste disposal has to be done. This is more encouraging in India since the launch of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in October 2014 wherein the revenue generated by recycling e-waste and recovering metals.
Responsibility and Role of industries
Generators of wastes should take responsibility to determine the output characteristics of wastes and if hazardous, should provide management options. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers should undertake the responsibility of recycling/disposal of their own products by educating and rewarding the consumers financially.
Responsibilities of the Citizen
Waste prevention is perhaps more preferred to any other waste management option including recycling. Donating electronics for reuse extends the lives of valuable products and keeps them out of the waste management system for a longer time. But care should be taken while donating such items i.e. the items should be in working condition. Reuse, in addition to being an environmentally preferable alternative, also benefits society. By donating used electronics, schools, non-profit organizations, and lower-income families can afford to use equipment that they otherwise could not afford. E-wastes should never be disposed of with garbage and other household wastes. This should be segregated at the site and sold or donated to various organizations. NGOs should adopt a participatory approach in the management of e-waste.