E-waste Crisis and Management
E-waste Crisis and Management
We’ve all seen news headlines such as “Only 12 years to prevent irreversible damage from climate change” or “Final call to save the world from climate catastrophe” These doomsday scenarios don’t really register in our heads because the prospect of having so little time left is too huge and frightening for us to absorb. What’s more, we feel like we alone can’t do anything about this impending disaster. We don’t have massive coal plants we can shut down or agricultural farms where we can switch over to organic practices.
But what is one thing we all do have that puts a strain on the environment? A mobile phone. A laptop. A watch. With improving technologies, our needs for such devices increases every single day and we tend to buy more and more. Consequently this generates more waste.
What is E-waste?
Anything with a plug, electric cord or battery can be referred to as e-waste. But it’s a misnomer as it contains many valuable metals like gold copper nickel so it’s not just waste.
What is the problem?
Through my research I found out that disposal of such electronic wastes leads to the release of toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. Though it only makes up for 2% of solid waste streams, it can be responsible for as much as 70% of the hazardous materials in landfills, which cause both environmental and health problems.
What’s more is that the world will be generating a global total of 52.2 million metric tonnes of e-waste by 2021. Developed countries like the US and UK export their e-waste to countries like India, China, and Bangladesh under false pretenses, since there is a lack of implementation of laws.
95% of e-waste is disposed of in the informal sector where young kids strip of metals from the waste in open-pit acid baths to recover these valuable metals and burn the remaining plastic which releases dioxins. They have next to no safety standards and in turn deal with dangerous consequences as they inhale these chemicals. They suffer through stunted growth, lung damage and cancer and many more severe conditions.
Most workers engaging in e-waste dismantling and recycling are not provided basic safety equipment and are paid very little. They are forced to continue in this line of work as a means for earning their minimal daily wage. The owners and operators of these e-waste dismantling and recycling centres, knowing that the workers are dependent on the work, have no incentive to provide any level of safety or security to these workers.
Since the work itself is extremely dangerous, workers inevitably face extreme health problems including but not limited to several types of cancers, respiratory diseases, infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirths.
E-Waste Legislation in India:
The government passed the first law on e-waste management in 2011, based on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which put the onus on the producer for the management of the final stages of the life of its product, in an eco-friendly way, by creating certain norms in tandem with state pollution control boards. However, it did not set collection targets; this was amended in the new law, passed in 2016 and amended in 2018.
Despite all these laws, no enforcement has been done and the laws go largely ignored.
Seeing the harmful effects of e-waste on human health and the environment, this is a plea to the government for -
- Stricter implementation of e-waste laws, especially holding the producers responsible under the Extended Producer Responsibility
- Set up task-forces to transition informal e-waste recycling sites to formal, safe and regulated units
- Providing safety equipment for these units
- Set up a regulatory authority to have checks and balances enforcing the existing laws
Sign this petition to force the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and all the leaders of our country to take action against Climate Change by recognising the E-waste Crisis and giving us our Right to Breathe.
By signing this petition, you do your part in helping hundreds of workers in India, and making a safer environment for all of us to live in.
Pledge to properly dispose of your e-waste today. Contact YuvaShakti @firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and get your e-waste recycled.
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