The electronic industry has seen an enormous boom within the past decade. With the demand technological devices like smartphones, laptops, video games etc. on the rise; there has also been a commensurate increase in the e-waste. The sharp increase in e-waste also brings with it the concern about recycling the same.
Many of us have a tendency to buy the latest version of any gadget and discard the older versions of the same. Since the technology changes at a lightning speed; latest, updated versions of mobile phones, laptops are being launched every other month and the older ones, though perfectly functional, become redundant. This creates enormous e-waste as not each and every part of an electronic device can be recycled. As per the latest estimates, only 1.5 % of e-waste generated in India is recycled.
50 million tonnes of e-waste was generated globally in 2018, says a recent research report. Only 20% of the global e-waste was recycled which means that 40 million tonnes of e-waste is either burned or illegally traded in a sub-standard way. India contributes around 2 million out of the 50 million tonnes of e-waste and ranks 5th in the world among top e-waste producing countries.
E-waste harms the environment. Computers and other electronic products contain hazardous materials such as lead, zinc, nickel, flame retardants, barium and chromium. When this e-waste is burned, the toxic substances in the fumes are released into the air. When harmful materials like lead enter the human body through breathing, it causes irreparable damage to blood and vital organs like kidneys, central as well as the peripheral nervous system.
If electronic waste is dumped in landfills, the dangerous materials leak in the groundwater, directly affecting both land and sea animals. For instance, Guiyu in China is the largest e-waste disposing site in China and possibly the world. Majority of the residents of the locality have been diagnosed with neurological, respiratory and bone problems.
According to the section 15 and 16 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986; whoever fails to comply with the regulations under this act will be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh or imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years or both.
Hence, for a greener earth and cleaner tomorrow for the generations to come; one should refrain from resorting to illegal methods of discarding the e-waste. The best practice will be to opt for recycling the same at a centre dedicated for the purpose.