E-waste and scientific recycling
Electronics that are no longer needed, broken, or nearing the end of their “useful life” are referred to as “e-waste.” Electronic items that are used every day include computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines.
The problem of how to get rid of old and undesirable gadgets is not a recent one; it has existed at least since the 1970s. But a lot has happened since then, especially how many electronics are thrown out now.
But why is e-waste important?
Metals like gold, silver, and copper can be recovered from e-waste and added back into the production process. The effective recovery of precious materials from e-waste has a huge economic potential and can present chances for both people and businesses to generate cash.
Not harmful if stored safely
If electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is stored safely in homes or stores after it has served its purpose, it is claimed that it will not harm the environment or human health. When end-of-life EEE (e-waste) is opened up and valuable and semi-precious materials are extracted from it using illogical procedures, it poses health hazards and harms the environment.
Facts on e-waste you must know
- This year, around 5.3 billion mobile/smartphones will become obsolete. If the electronics were placed flat and on top of one another, they would reach a height of about 50,000 miles. That is equivalent to one-eighth of the lunar distance.
- The typical household in Europe has 74 e-products out of 8,775 families across six nations. Thirteen e-products, on average, are being hoarded. This is almost universally the case.
The top five hoarded small electronic devices were, in descending order: mobile and smartphones; small equipment; small IT equipment (e.g., hard drives, routers, keyboards, mice); small electronics and accessories (e.g., headphones, remotes). Top on the list of goods most likely to be thrown away were LED bulbs.
- E-waste resulting in data theft :
You may have heard that before disposing of important documents and serial numbers, they need to be destroyed. You presumably already know that the purpose of this is to prevent identity theft and credit card fraud. A laptop or phone can be donated or thrown out in the same manner.
The hard disc in your computer or the memory stick in your smartphone is a major liability for both organisations and consumers. It just has to be plugged into a new computer. There are many different disposal techniques, however, most of them aren’t ideal.
The only surefire method to accomplish it is to physically destroy or disassemble your devices. But a new, professional laptop should handle it.
Current scenario of E-waste in India
According to government statistics, 1.67 lakh tonnes of plastic waste are co-processed in cement kilns annually and about 8 lakh tonnes of plastic trash are recycled annually. In 22 states, there are 468 authorised recyclers/dismantlers with a combined processing capacity of 13.85 lakh tonnes of e-waste.
No data on pollution caused by e-waste
Recent research on the contamination brought on by e-waste is lacking: In response to Kerala Rajya Sabha member V Sivadasan (CPM) during a recent Parliament session, Minister of State for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has not conducted a study to determine the harm that e-waste causes to the environment.
E-waste management rules
The e-Waste (Management) Rules, which were announced in 2016, were periodically revised. 21 different categories of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) have been flagged as e-waste by the Environment Ministry thus far.
What is the way forward?
An effective regime
A well-designed, strong, and regulated e-waste recovery framework is required since India has a severe lack of rich mineral resources, which would lead to the creation of jobs and wealth.
Customers must properly utilise the product for the entirety of its useful life before weighing the pros and disadvantages of repair or disposal while maintaining the highest level of environmental awareness.
When manufacturers create electronic devices that are safer, more enduring, repairable, and recyclable, e-waste can be decreased on the supply side.
It would be more practical for businesses and the government to establish programmes that make sure e-waste readily finds its way to appropriate recyclers rather than assuming that informal recyclers become formal recyclers.
The time has come for coordinated measures to be made in order to increase disposal through official and scientific channels while also igniting sustainable consumption behaviours.