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New Delhi, May 18, 2010

A different waste model

  Should India import and reprocess the world’s growing mountains of junk and toxic garbage? Should this become our business opportunity, capitalizing on the fact that rich countries need cheaper and more efficient ways of dealing with their waste—everything from electronic to medical? The question is if we can manage the waste of others, even as we struggle and fail to deal with our own piles of garbage.   

How to dispose e-waste

Computers: Obsolete computers account for a majority of the overall e-waste currently found in landfills There are some relatively safe options to dispose of old computers: Option 1:  If your computers are in working condition, you can donate them to a school or an organization working in the field of education.

How not to dispose e-waste

E-waste should never be sold as trash to rag-pickers as it may end up with unorganised recyclers who basically burn main parts to extract precious metals. This causes release of extremely toxic substances called dioxins and furans. E-waste should also not be dumped in a landfill. Even in small doses, these materials can contaminate soil as well as drinking water. Landfills are also prone to uncontrolled fires which can release toxic fumes.  

Guidelines for disposal of e-waste

In India, there are no specific environmental laws or guidelines for e-waste disposal and it is governed only by the “The Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2003”. There is no large scale organized e-waste recycling facility in India and most of the e-waste recycling units are operating in un-organized sector.  

Why is it dangerous?

E-wastes contain certain toxic constituents in their components such as lead, cadmium, mercury, polychlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs), etched chemicals, brominated flame retardants etc., which if not handled safely are toxic and potentially hazardous to environment and human health.  

What is e-waste?

Product obsolescence whether inbuilt or otherwise is becoming more rapid since the speed of innovation and the dynamism of product manufacturing has resulted in a short life span for most electronic products. The problem of e-waste arises when these used electronic devices and house hold appliances such as computers, hand held cellular phones, personal stereos and large household appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners etc reach their end of life.