Demand for safe handling and management of e-waste sign now

Demand for safe handling and management of e-waste

The electronics industry is the worlds largest and fastest growing industry and is recognised as one of the engines of economic development in India. As a consequence of this growth, combined with rapidly increasing product obsolescence and consumer choices, it has brought in a new kind of waste electronic waste or e-waste. This ever-increasing waste is very complex in characteristics and requires another set of equally efficient technology and processes to deal with it.

India today generates 1,45,000 tonnes annually, which is handled across many cities in India mainly in informal sectors exposing poor workers to environment and occupational health risks. Some of the processes include open burning of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) wires, acid bath, heating of lead solders, etc. These processes are highly toxic impacting both environment and human health.

Some of the immediate and long-term impacts of the current practices are as follows:

- Release of toxics into air, water and soil;
- Health concerns to the workers involved directly in such operations;
- Low recovery of materials due to rudimentary processes (loss of resources);
- Loss of revenue to state as these recycling centres are not covered under any regulation;
- Disproportionate sharing of profits.

The NGO has carried out electronic waste assessment study in various cities in the country and highlighted its unsafe recycling of over a period of half-a-decade or so. Stressing on the critical dimension that the problem has acquired, Ravi Agarwal, Director, Toxics Link, stated that the existing regulation Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules is inadequate for dealing with electronic waste as the nature of the waste generation in this case is spread across individual households and so is its recycling.

Toxics Link, Delhi-based not-for-profit environmental group, which has pioneered research on this problem in India, is observing an E-waste Awareness Week, starting 4th June 2007, in the backdrop of the forthcoming World Environment Day on 5th June 2007.

I do hereby support the efforts being undertaken by Toxics Link to address the issue of E-waste in India and urge the government and the industry to have:

1. A comprehensive legislation for safe handling and management of Electronic Waste
2. A Proper collection and recycling infrastructure
3. Cleaner and Design for Environment (DfE) products


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Karen RossBy:
Justice, rights and public orderIn:
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Indian citizen

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