Electronic waste: A rising concern

Electronic waste is a term coined to refer to the used electrical or electronic devices which are discarded after its use or shelf life. There have been increasing concerns regarding the E-waste generated globally. Every day we see cell phones and other electronic gadgets with enhanced features at attractive prices hitting the market prompting common masses to switch over to better technology. These rapid changes in technology coupled with added features have decreased the average life span of electronic devices. Nowadays it is marked as a social status to have the latest mobile phones and laptops with improved features. But there is a huge question mark on the older devices which somehow find its way to landfills disrupting our eco space and cause various health concerns. 

There is huge hype nowadays for industry 4.0, 5G technology, artificial intelligence etc. The rapid expansion of globalization has contributed to a number of IT and electronic gadgets manufacturing organizations which marks significant rise in waste generation. The common sources of E-waste are as follows-

  • Electronic devices used in offices, health care units are discarded after use.
  • Space technology not only contributes to within the Earth’s atmosphere but also to outer space. For instance, recently ISRO launched an anti satellite missile which left debris to float around the LEO. 
  • In name of defense and technology we are manufacturing numerous machines, drones and equipment which often end up as waste after use. 
  • Automobile manufacturers are also one of the most important contributors to the rising E-waste generation. 

India does not have an updated ‘comprehensive inventorisation of E waste generation in India’ which is confirmed by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). According to research by United Nations University, India produces 2 million metric tons of E-waste annually and hence rank 5th globally. The greatest problem that has emerged lately is the lack of awareness and if not addressed properly would lead to various health and environmental concerns. The metals employed for manufacturing gadgets constitute elements which are highly hazardously if not treated well. India lacks stringent environmental laws, which makes it easier to manufacture a number of chemicals and use elements which contribute negatively to the environment. For instance, lead (Pb) is a harmful element but is used by various PCB manufacturers because of its economical value and ease of availability compared to lead free substitutes like gold, silver or tin plating. As student of Calcutta Business School, I believe that world has numerous prime issues to be worked on and hence it is crucial for every individual to contribute towards at least one sustainable development goals in order to prosper as a whole. There are various issues like E-waste management which needs to be addressed immediately and that can only happen if every individual take firm responsibility to make world a better place through constructive efforts.

Shalini Singh 

PGDM Batch  2019-2021

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