Battling E-Waste Is The Need Of The Hour And Here Is How You Can Chip In

How many gadgets do you have in your house? An average Indian household has at least one smartphone, a laptop, a television, and cables to power these devices. Now, imagine how many such gadgets are in the hands of people around the country, and then the world?

India has nearly 1.4 crore people, while the world’s population is estimated at over 755 crore. Extrapolating from this data, just the scale of the electronics in use is unimaginable. Now envision just how much larger is the volume of discarded electronics, or electronic waste (e-waste).

According to a report by the United Nations Institute of Training and Research, around 50 million tonnes (MT) of e-waste is generated globally per year, with an average of more than 6 kg per person.

The United Nations has added that global e-waste volumes have grown at a rate of 5 percent per annum since 2014, and the total global volume could double by 2035. Less than a fifth of the e-waste is recycled.

According to USA’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA), recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent of the electricity used by 3,657 homes in a year.

The importance of e-waste recycling

Proper recycling and reuse of electronic waste not only reduces the environmental impact, but also reduces the amount of precious metals that need to be mined to make the electronics.

Recycling circuit boards can be more valuable than mining for ore, the report suggests — a tonne of circuit boards can contain 40-800 times more gold and 30-40 times more copper than one tonne of ore.

1. Collect and recycle e-waste generating during the manufacturing process.

2. Tie up with authorised collection agencies to collect electronics that have reached end-of-life.

3. Set up collection centres and/or a pipeline of recycling electronics.

4. Collection centres must store the waste in a secure manner until it is sent to the dismantlers.

5. Display contact details for consumers.

1. Ensure that your e-waste is channelled to authorised collection centres, dismantlers, or recyclers.

1. Obtain proper authorisation from the state pollution control board.

2. Ensure no damage is caused to the environment during storage and transport.

3. Dismantle e-waste as per prescribed guidelines.

4. Ensure that dismantled e-waste is segregated and sent to authorised recyclers to extract materials.

5. Send non-recyclable or non-recoverable materials to authorised treatment storage and disposal facilities.

According to GlobaleWaste.Org, which has data till 2019, India generated 2.4 kg of electronic waste per capita, while more than twice, 5.8 kg per capita, was in the entire chain of manufacturing.

The best way, as a consumer of electronics, is to stick to the mantra of three ‘R’s of waste management — reduce, reuse, or recycle.

Reduce: Reducing what is produced and what is consumed is essential — if there is less waste, then there is less to recycle or reuse. Focus on multi-use items to reduce the number of items you buy.

Reuse: A smartphone that has reached the end of life can be used as a portable music player, or a bedside alarm, or a secondary screen, or even as a GPS navigator. Just have the battery replaced, and you’re good to go. This way, many such electronic items in our lives can be reused or repurposed, thus reducing the amount of e-waste out in the world.

Recycle: When the other two options are not possible, then recycle the item. You must use only authorised recycling centres — whether government-run, privately operated or even company-owned. This way, electronic waste is properly recycled, dismantled and repurposed in a way that’s friendly to the environment.

(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)

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