E-waste is the waste generated from old and obsolete Electronic and Electrical waste. Globally also know as Waste from Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE). India generates approximately 2 million tonnes of E-waste as of 2016. This number is set to rise as the economy strengthens and the government focuses on Make in India. At present 95% of the e-waste generated is forwarded to the unorganised sector.
The primary danger with e-waste is derived from the toxic components used to make the electronics. E-waste is composed of heavy metals like mercury, lead and cadmium which are major contributors to pollution. That old VCR you might be so eager to get rid of can make a huge dent on the quality of your life if not disposed of with caution. In addition, e-waste is not biodegradable and, therefore, can cause a long-lasting impact.
Currently after recovery of valuable metals whatever remains of e-waste is either burnt through acid baths or dumped in a land fill. Poor e-waste disposal techniques degrade the earth’s resources in many ways. E-waste can accumulate on land surfaces and contaminate the land surface with toxic substances. Eventually, surface water finds its way into underground water resources. The change in water chemistry affects organisms that depend on this water. The water resurfaces through springs and eventually finds its’ way back into the human body. These substances are difficult to eliminate and remain in the body for long time. Significant accumulation of these substances leads to improper metabolic processes in the body.
These substances can also find their way into other water bodies where they can affect species compositions and lead to ecological imbalances. E-waste is a contributor to plastic waste mainly from materials like PVC. Accumulating plastics in a particular location reduces the amount of water reaching the soil, hence reducing groundwater recharge.
Further due to lack of available land space to dump, e-waste has caused man to dump waste in water bodies. Recently there was a fire at Bellandurs lake in Bangalore due to toxic waste dumped in the lake.
Thus, treatment of ‘E-waste’ with the correct know-how and technology is essential.
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