The rise in the usage of technology has given all of us a very comfortable life. That said and done, it has a darker side as well. With an updated version of a gadget hitting the market every alternate year, the usable lifespan of a gadget is decreasing. This is one of the reasons why we are sitting on a huge heap of e-waste.
India’s contribution to global e-waste is growing every year. As per ASSOCHAM, India’s e-waste production is growing at a CAGR of about 30%. This means, in approximately every two and a half years, India doubles the amount of e-waste it generates.
India generates more than two million tons of e-waste per year as claimed by the Global E-waste Monitor of 2017. Not only this, India ranks 5th among the largest E-waste producing countries of the world as per the same report. The government has tried to take a few stops for stalling or slowing the growth of e-waste in India, but none of these efforts has fetched any fruits as of now.
The Central Pollution Control Board provided a list of the 10 largest E-waste producing states in India. Maharashtra ranks first with Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, UP, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, MP, and Punjab following it. Mind well, these are also some of the most densely populated states in India. This means that a large chunk of the Indian population is exposed to e-waste.
The Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) survey held in 2009 regarding ‘E-waste generation at Source’ provided that out of the total e-waste generated in India, televisions comprise 68% and desktops comprise 27%. The mobile phones produced or sold in India comprise only 1% of the total E-waste.
A major cause of the increase of e-waste in India is the informal industry responsible for it. We still don’t have well-known, organized routes to take care of e-waste.
Even after the introduction of e-waste management legislation in 2016, not much has changed. As per the 2005 Central Pollution Control Board projections, the e-waste production in India would reduce to 0.8 million tons per year by 2010. But no such projection was ever achieved.
There was already enough e-waste in our country. What added to the already critical situation is the illegal import of e-waste in India, was an import of around 50,000 ton of e-waste in the year 2007. The imports comprise approximately 2% of the total E-waste in India.
There is no panacea to solve the problem in one go. It will have to be a collective effort of the government, the society and the businesses. The government has tried bringing in legislation to take an iron hand against e-waste generation; what it needs to do now is to ensure that these rules are tightened year on year and enforced across the country. The businesses will have to build economic models that help them take care of the e-waste while still ensuring that their bottom lines don’t take a hit. This will require a sense of urgency and a focus on innovation; businesses can channelize their CSR funds to form bodies for safely processing e-waste generated in their regions of operations.
Finally, it all boils down to the population. Till we don’t sensitize and educate ourselves about the growing problem of e-waste in India, we will not see any need for taking action against it. So, look around and you will easily find a few ways you can decrease your contribution to the generation of e-waste in India.10