Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is any electronic or electrical device that is no longer usable or has surpassed its expiration date. E-waste can come in the form of computers, servers, mainframes, monitors, compact discs (CDs), printers, scanners, copiers, calculators, fax machines, battery cells, cellular phones, transceivers, TVs, iPods, medical apparatus, washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners. With technology always advancing and new electronic devices constantly being produced, it’s no surprise that we generate a lot of e-waste as a society.
E-waste is a huge problem because it contains so many recyclable materials that can’t be reused due to improper disposal methods. Due to the lack of proper e-waste recycling in India, the waste is dismantled and processed crudely, its toxic constituents can wreak havoc on the human body. Processes such as dismantling components, wet chemical processing, and incineration are used to dispose of the waste and result in direct exposure and inhalation of harmful chemicals
India is ranked as the fifth largest producer of e-waste in the world after the USA, China, Japan, and Germany; however, the statistics of e-waste recycling in India are quite disappointing as less than 2% of the total e-waste produced in India is formally recycled each year. It is up to a handful of e-waste recycling companies in India to take the lead in bettering the figures.
The informal sector dominates the collection, transportation, processing, and electronic waste recycling in India. This sector is well-networked but unregulated, which means that not all materials and value are recovered. In addition, there are significant environmental and worker safety and health concerns associated with toxins leaking into the environment.
It is crucial to integrate the informal sector into transparent e-waste recycling in India, to have better control over environmental and human health impacts. There have been some attempts to integrate the existing informal sector into the emerging scenario.
These e-waste recycling companies in India offer a glimmer of hope for our future. Since India is highly deficient in precious mineral resources, a well-designed, robust and regulated e-waste recovery regime would greatly generate jobs as well as wealth.