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Over 4.5 lakh children engaged in various e-waste activities in India: Assocham study
About 4.5 lakh child
labourers (10-14 years of age) in India are engaged in various e-waste
(electronic waste) activities, without adequate protection and safeguards in
various yards and recycling workshops, according to a recent Assocham study on
Secretary-General, Assocham, said, the informal recycling industry often
employs children to dismantle electronic waste. The report also advocates
legislation to prevent a child's entry into this labour market.
Only 4 per cent of
the total e-waste gets recycled due to poor infrastructure, legislation and
framework which lead to a waste of diminishing natural resources, irreparable
damage of environment and health of the people working in industry. Over 95 per
cent of e-waste generated is managed by the unorganised sector and scrap
dealers in this market, dismantle the products instead of recycling it, the
India is likely to
generate e-waste to an extent of 15 lakh tonnes per annum by 2015 from the
current level 12.5 lakh tonnes per annum growing at a compound annual growth
rate (CAGR) of about 25 per cent.
nearly 12.5 lakh tonnes of electronic waste every year. Mumbai (96,000) tops
the list in generating e-waste followed Delhi-NCR (67,000) and Bangalore
(57,000) says the Assocham paper. Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and
Pune find a place in the ladder, at 47,000, 35,000, 26,000, 25,000 and 19,000
tonnes per year respectively, reveals the study.
accounts for almost 68 per cent of e-waste material followed by
telecommunication equipment (12 per cent), electrical equipment (8 per cent)
and medical equipment (7 per cent). Other equipment, including household
e-crap, accounts for the remaining 5 per cent.
includes discarded computer monitors, motherboards, Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT),
Printed Circuit Board (PCB), mobile phones and chargers, compact discs,
headphones, white goods such as Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD)/ Plasma
televisions, air conditioners, refrigerators and so on. With increasing use of
these in our everyday life, e-waste is also piling up. Almost half of all
unused and end-of-life electronic products lie idle in landfills, junkyards and
warehouses”, it said.
Rawat said, “e-waste
is directly linked to the economic growth of the country and also overall
consumer spending pattern. India’s economic growth has lifted millions of
people from lower-income group to middle and high-income groups and increased
The top e-waste
More than 70 per cent
of e-waste contributors are government, public and private industries while
household waste contributes about 15 per cent. Televisions, refrigerators and
washing machines make up the majority of e-waste, while computers account for
another 20 per cent and mobile phones 2 per cent, adds the report.
including computer, TV, mobiles and refrigerators contain over 1,000 toxic
material, which contaminate soil and ground water. Exposure can cause headache,
irritability, nausea, vomiting and eyes pain. Recyclers may suffer liver,
kidney and neurological disorders,” said Dr BK Rao, Chairman of Assocham Health
committee releasing the paper.
The recyclers are not
fully aware of the health risks. ''These products have components that contain
toxic substances like lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, plastic,
PVC, BFRs, barium, beryllium, and carcinogens like carbon black and heavy
metals. This deadly mix can cause severe health problems in those handling the
waste,'' adds Dr. Rao. Printed circuit boards, for instance, contain heavy
metals like antimony, gold, silver, chromium, zinc, lead, tin and copper. The
method of extracting these materials from circuit boards is highly hazardous
and involves heating the metals in the open.
“Issues relating to
poor sensitisation about this sector, low organised recycling, cross-border
flow of waste equipment into India, limited reach out and awareness regarding
disposal, after determining end of useful life, and lack of coordination
between various authorities responsible for e-waste management and disposal
including the non-involvement of municipalities in e-waste management,” Rawat
However, most of
these products can be recycled, refurbished and redeployed going down the value
chain and reused by a bit of reconstruction process, reducing overall impact on
the environment, he said.
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