Eighty per cent of citizens in the top seven metros of India are aware about the need for proper disposal of electronic waste, but when it comes to actually getting rid of them, old habits die hard. A survey conducted jointly by Manufacturers Association of Information and Technology (MAIT) and Cerebra Green, an e-waste management company, reveals that 50% of the 600 respondents in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Pune had at least two or more unused devices at home, 30% had three to four old devices and 20% had more than five unused devices at home. The survey said that 50% of the respondents kept old, unused devices that were more than five years old, 28% kept devices three to four years old and around 23% were using devices that were two years or less old.
Ashok Bharaskar, manager at Kuldeep E-waste Disposals, an e-waste management company, offered an explanation for this trend. “If someone has brought a pen drive 10 years ago, he want to get some value on selling it and waits till he can get that.
At times, it’s for sentimental reasons,” he said. He doesn’t believe that for another 10 years any serious awareness will come about regarding e-waste pan-India. “The only people who are aware are college students or professionals,” he added. Lack of environmentally responsible collection and disposal facilities also plays a big role in this.
The Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) estimated in 2005 that India produced 1,46,180 tonnes of e-waste. No official data has been recorded since that time, a fact which underscores the e-waste problem in India. But Assocham in a recent release said that India generated about 2 million tonnes per annum of e-waste in 2016. It said that almost 22% of the 2 million tonnes of e-waste produced per annum is recycled. V Ranganathan, MD and founder, Cerebra Integrated Technologies, said this was because of current ways of dealing with e-waste. “Majority of e-waste is collected by the informal sector. Even corporates hand over e-waste to the informal sector asit offers a better price. It recycles it illegally by using acids and burning materials.”
He explained that the hoarding of devices is a problem because it does not aid in recycling. “Recycling of end-of-life products gives us a chance to recover raw materials which would be used in producing new devices. Recovery of metals and plastic through recycling greatly reduces the mining of materials. So hoarding of devices robs us the opportunity to recover the materials.”