Electronics industry is the world's largest and fastest growing manufacturing industry.
Rapid growth, combined with rapid product obsolescence and discarded electronics is now the fastest growing waste fraction, accounting for 8% of all municipal waste in European Union (The Economist, 2005).
In developing countries, on an average it equals to 1% of total solid waste and is expected to grow to 2% by 2010 (UNEP, 2009)
There is no generally accepted definition of e-waste
Electronic waste commonly known as E-waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), or end-of-life electronic are the electronic appliances such as computers, laptops, TVs, DVD players, mobile phones, MP3 players etc. including their assembly, sub-assembly, components and consumables, which have been disposed of or unwanted by their original users(Bhuie et al.,2004).
Composition of E-waste Electronic appliances are composed of hundreds of different materials that can be both toxic but also of high value . It consist of- 1.Valuable material 2.Hazardous material (DEFRA, 2004)
Valuable Materials Gold, silver, copper, platinum etc. are valuable substances which turn recycling of e-waste into a lucrative business opportunity.
Hazardous Material The recycling of hazardous substances, e.g. carcinogens such as lead and arsenic ,CRT, Capacitors, Mercury switches and relays, Batteries, Liquid crystal displays is critical and poses serious health risks and environment dangers of not properly handled
Electronic wastes can cause widespread environmental damage due to the use of toxic materials
Toxic Materials releases highly toxic dioxins and furans when burned
Land filling of e wastes can lead to the leaching of lead into the ground water.
If the CRT is crushed and burned, it emits toxic fumes into the air (Ramachandra and Saira, 2004)
The cadmium from one mobile phone battery is enough to pollute 600 m3 of water (Trick, 2002).
Indian E-waste Scenario
Increasing quantity of e-waste
WEEE generation is about 146000 tonne per year
The top states in order of highest contribution to WEEE include Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat. The ranked list of cities as WEEE generators are Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, AhmadabadHyderabad (IRGSSA, 2005)
Most of the e-waste is dumped from developed countries.
at recycling units in New Delhi (India) itself, 70% of the total electronic waste collected was actually exported or dumped by developed countries (Toxic Link,2004)
by 2020, E-waste from old computers in India will jumped by 500%; from discarded mobile phones will be about 18 times high(UNEP 2010 report)
marks the actual entry of the new electrical and electronic equipments, raw materials, components, assemblies and sub-assemblies in India either in the form of production by the producers and manufacturers who are located in India, or in the form of its import from the foreign countries by the importers.
Up to this level the sector is well organized in India.
Level II-WEEE Generation The domestic as well as official consumers are the real users of EEE, who purchases the generated new EEE from the actors of first level, in order to serve their present need.
Level III-WEEE Reprocessing This stage can be divided into two stages- Pre-reprocessing stage Reprocessing stage
Problems with e-waste Problems associated with the e-waste management- its ever increasing quantum
its scientific and environment friendly disposal
Management and disposal of e-waste has become a serious problem among states nationwide.
The problem of electronic waste (e-waste) is growing at an unsustainable rate.
E-waste is now the fastest growing, and most toxic, component of municipal garbage.
Local governments are facing huge costs to handle e-waste, and even greater costs if they do not capture this toxic stream and handle it in an appropriate manner.
Problems specific to developing countries
Although the quantity of e-waste per capita is still relatively small, populous countries such as China and India are already huge producers of e-waste in absolute terms (Empa, 2005)
These countries also display the fastest growing markets for electrical and electronic equipment.
Some developing and transition countries are importing considerable quantities of e-waste. Some of them arrive as donations meant to help the poor, while others are simply mislabelled.
Each one of us has a role to play!
Need for a e-waste policy and legislation
Encourage and facilitate organized recycling systems
Should subsidies recycling and disposal industries
Collect fee from manufactured/consumers for the disposal of toxic material
Incentive schemes for garbage collectors and general public for collecting and handling over e-waste
Awareness programs on e-waste for school children and general public
Transparency and accountability to the public Handling large amounts of e-waste poses risks of toxic contamination to workers and surrounding communities if conducted carelessly.
Thus, the most basic criterion that employees and citizens should rightfully expect from any recycling operation is that it be open to public inspection.
General compliance with occupational health and safety standards Observance of health and safety standards in the workplace is important for protecting workers from exposure to toxics whilst handling e-waste
Well-trained workers, who are fully protected by the law to seek advice and take action to protect their health and the environment without fear of reprisal from their employer, are the most effective environmental protection.
It is important that we create a national framework for the environmentally sound management of e-waste including wide public awareness and education
Initiate pilot schemes on collection and sorting of e-wastes , including take back schemes and schemes for repair refurbishment and recycling
References A roadmap for development of sustainable E-waste management system in India Sushant B. Wath ⁎, Atul N. Vaidya, P.S. Dutt, TapanChakrabarti National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nehru Marg, Nagpur-440 020, India