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  1. Madhukar Varshney
  2. E-waste Challenge
  3. Friday, 12 April 2019
India is one of the biggest producers of e-waste in the world. The Global E-waste Monitor 2017, published by the United Nations University, states that India generates about 2 million tonnes of e-waste annually and ranks fifth among e-waste producing countries, after the US, China, Japan and Germany.

According to a recent UN report, but only 20% is formally recycled. Much of the rest ends up in landfill, or is recycled informally in developing nations.More than 95% of India’s e-waste is processed by a widely distributed network of informal workers of waste pickers. They are often referred to as “kabadiwalas” or “raddiwalas” who collect, dismantle and recycle it and operate illegally outside of any regulated or formal organisational system. Little has changed since India introduced e-waste management legislation in 2016.About 95 percent of electronic waste in India is treated and processed in urban slums, where untrained workers carry out practices unsafe for human and environmental health.

Improper handling of e-waste is detrimental to the environment and mankind. Since this waste is nothing but a combination of plastics and toxic chemicals, these get released into the environment. Pollutants such as dioxins and furans from polyvinyl chloride, lead, beryllium, cadmium, mercury, etc. get into our environment and cause the following health hazards:

- Reproductive issues
- Developmental problems
- Damage to the immune system
- Interference with regulatory hormones
- Damage to the nervous system
- Kidney damage
- Hamper’s brain development in children
- May lead to lung cancer
- Chronic beryllium disease
- Skin ailments
- Cadmium accumulations on liver and kidney
- Asthmatic bronchitis
- DNA damage
- Muscle weakness
- Endocrine system disruption


Exposure to harmful chemicals present in e-waste can lead to severe health hazards that are at times fatal. These toxins enter our body through inhalation, skin absorption, or ingestion. After that, humans run the risk of developing any of the above-mentioned conditions.

To overcome this challange, we should focus on following:
- Enforcement of law around e-waste management for Manufactures, Recyclers
- Increase the contribution in Organised Sector - since there is no specific motivation for end user to dispose the e-Waste thru authorised Recyclers, so they end up disposing the waste with unorganised scrape dealers.
- strengthen the collection and repair services by formalising the informal players and capitalise on their enormous knowledge
- Change in manufacturing design, more environment friendly products must be developed and produced.
  Pune, Maharashtra, India
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