Thursday, November 20, 2008 by Bishakha Shome
E-waste or electronic waste is one of the downbeat of the electronically developing lifestyle we all are getting adapted to. In the past one decade India has become the hub of IT manufacturers, the country’s developing scenario has been attracting global IT players. While the country is getting more and more interested in latest technology, environmentalists are getting worried about the exposed pollution being created by the e-waste dump yards.
There is a rapid growth in the amount of disposed used and old electronic goods, like computers, mobiles, phones Tvs etc. E-waste generally consists of obsolete devices such as DVDs, CDs, floppies, tapes and electronic components including chips, processors, mother boards, printed circuit boards and industrial electronics. Experts say e-waste contains many hazardous substances like heavy metals, PVC plastics, and brominated flame retardants as well as toxic elements like lead, mercury and cadmium.
In the throw-away culture we all are growing up with, it is much cheaper and convenient discarding goods rather than repairing them. The waste is usually dumped in open landfill, exposing surrounding soil, water and people to toxicity and its adverse effects. While the density of e-waste in the country is on the rise, at present there are very few e-waste recycling plants in India and hence we might be heading towards a future where India will turn out being an electronic morgue. A large section of workers are engaged in the dismantling of e-waste. In the absence of proper rules, lives of such workers are jeopardized due to their constant exposure to toxic metals and fumes. In Indian households most of the time electronic goods are sold to kabariwalas or feriwalas(scarp dealers), which then goes to informal disassembling units, which segregate different metals, plastics, batteries and circuits so that they can be sold and reused. Due to a lack of safety standards in such recycling plants, lives of workers handling these wastes are jeopardized due to their constant exposure to toxic metals and fumes.
As we are all are busy being habituated to a comfy hi tech world, it is good to know that there are a few (yes, it’s only a few), who are taking initiatives to think about our ecologically sustained hi-tech future. NGOs like Toxic Links, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti trying to find solutions to this major problem while Companies like Satyam have started focusing on e-waste management. Other companies like Nokia, Samsung etc have taken a pledge of creating ‘green electronics’. Taking care of the environment is not a difficult task, nobody is asking one to renounce technology or development, it is a simple matter about the ‘choice we make and the lifestyle we lead’.
One hopes that initiatives like these will create a future where there will be no need to make a choice as everything on offer will confirm to the safety and comfort of people as well as the earth!