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Issue 45
September , 2013
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E-waste disposal

Source: Deccan Herald, Date: September , 2013

Though some recycling and processing units have come up since then, even a small part of the problem has not yet been addressed. The rules have made producers and bulk consumers responsible for the safe disposal of waste material. Electronic goods can be returned to their manufacturer at the end of their life span. But most manufacturers have not made arrangements for collection and disposal of the items. They are also not aware of their responsibilities in this respect.

E-waste, which is generated every day, keeps growing with a million tonnes piling up in a year. Much of this is collected haphazardly by rag pickers or are thrown with garbage.  These waste ends up in landfills where they pollute environment. Piles of them are even burnt and this becomes even more dangerous as toxic fumes are then emitted.  Electronic waste contains elements like cadmium, mercury and barium, which are highly toxic.  Some of them are also radioactive.  They also seep into the earth from the landfills and contaminate underground water. It is not just parts of computers which form the hazardous waste. Items of common use like TV sets, fridges and mobile phones also turn into e-waste and they, too, have to be disposed of with care.

Technological advances and resulting upgradation  result in shorter life spans of electronic goods.  The waste mountain keeps growing. There is also the problem of waste from other countries, where there are strict rules for disposal, being illegally brought into the country.  State pollution control boards have a major responsibility in ensuring that electronic waste is safely reprocessed and recycled. But they are not equipped to do the job. Nor do they put pressure on producers and consumers to discharge their duties under the rules. Processing of e-waste can even be a profitable business if it is undertaken safely and scientifically. There is need to create more awareness among all those involved on every aspect of the problem and there should be strong penalty for violation of the rules.

 

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