Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Electronic Waste - A threat to environment

Electronic waste or e-waste is discarded electronic materials like mobile phones, computers, television sets  which are supposed to be recycled or reused. As technology advances and new electronic gadgets are introduced every often, the amount of discarded electronic equipments also increases. These materials are highly dangerous and could make serious impact on environment. Electronic wastage contain hazardous components like lead, beryllium, cadmium etc.  Proper disposal or recycling of these components are inevitable to keep environment free from pollution.

Coming to India, growing economy has made possible for everyone to have a mobile phone or computer. India is a potential market for electronic manufacturers. They introduce new models of their electronic products and people do not hesitate to try it. This habit creates a tendency to throw away the old gadget they were using and thus makes the mountain of e-waste. Just like other wastage, electronic waste also is not properly treated in India. Unscientific processing of e-waste releases toxic elements and it affects the person who handles it and the environment. There are many cancer causing components in laptops, circuit boards etc.

Developed countries found a solution to get rid of e-waste. They send it to countries like India and China where environmental care is sleeping. It is said that around 80% of e-waste in the United States is exported to third world countries in Asia and Africa. Lack of proper provisions to handle these e-wastage creates deep effects in the environment in these countries. In India, there are many villages where electronic garbage are collected for separating copper and gold. They use cyanide to separate gold from circuit board. They burn tangled wire to separate copper from it. People who are dealing with these methods for long time are in the risk of diseases like cancer. Millions of people in rural areas are going through many health related disturbances due to continuous interaction with hazardous chemicals. There are many safe methods to dismantle e-waste.  What the authorities should do is to establish proper system for recycling or reusing e-waste and give training to those millions of people who are involved in it.

E-waste Management - Components

The first step in e-waste management is to collecting and sorting e-waste and transporting it to the location where it will be treated. E-waste should be sorted according to the hazardous element it produces while processing.

Once it is sorted and reached the location recycling can be started. This process includes dismantling, identifying valuable components and recovering them. The recovered components can be exported to use it for manufacturing. The stakeholders of e-waste management are manufactures, recyclers , policy makers and users. It helps reduce environmental issues caused by e-waste dumping too.

Considering the increased tendency to produce more e-waste in India, the government has taken initiative to handle it in a proper manner. In collaboration with countries who have successfully established e-waste management plants, India is set to  get rid of e-waste and what else we can gift to mother nature.

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