Have you ever wondered what happens to your broken cell phone after you discard it? Well, it adds up to the ever-increasing quantity of electronic waste (e-waste) that India has to deal with every year.
India is the fifth-largest producer of e-waste after the US, China, Japan and Germany. Between 2014 and early 2015, the country generated more than 1.7 million tonnes of e-waste, according to a UN report. The United Nations University, the academic and research arm of the UN, has stated that in the next three years, e-waste volumes are bound to go up by 21% globally.
China, with an average of 6 million tonnes, is the largest producer of e-waste in Asia. However, the top per capita producers of e-waste are the developed European nations of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and the UK.
In India, only a miniscule percentage of the e-waste comes from discarded mobile phones, calculators, personal computers, printers and other small information technology equipment. Close to 60 percent is a mix of large and small home and business equipment, such as vacuum cleaners, video cameras, washing machines, lamps and electric stoves.
When one sees these alarming statistics, one is forced to ponder on how simple tips can be abided by to avoid generating e-waste in individual capacities. It is a good idea to always evaluate if you really need an extra gadget on your shelf whenever you are tempted to pick up a sleek, fancy gadget at a mall during a shopping spree. It makes a lot more sense to get a device with multiple functions. Also, you may want to extend the life of your gadgets by not overcharging the battery. Donating electronic goods to community NGOs where they will be put to constructive use by the underprivileged for educational purposes is also something that all of us should consider seriously.
Often, it is worthy to consciously keep in mind that we have the option of updating the internal software of a PC or any other device instead of discarding it for a newer model.
e-Waste is fast becoming a concern of gigantic proportions in global landfills. Most electronic goods contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. They also carry chlorofluorocarbons and brominated flame retardants which can find their way into water supply pipes once they reach landfills for disposal. Also, the ash and smoke from incinerating these devices can waft into the atmosphere and cause elevated levels of air pollution.
The water table is yet another geographic aspect that is highly vulnerable to improper disposal of e-waste. On our part, we must do all we can to mitigate the damage and minimize wastage. It is high time we realized that at this rate, the resultant pollution will last thousands of years and put all livings beings at risk.