Electronic waste

Thejasenuo Kirha

E-waste also known as electronic waste is a term used to describe electronics that are nearing the end of their life, donated, discarded or given to a recycler. Have you ever wondered what happens to your devices after they have been thrown away?

Harmful toxins in E-waste comprises such as lead, mercury, arsenic, beryllium, thallium, cadmium, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polychlorinated biphenyls, which can lead to permanent health hazards such as cancers, miscarriages, neurological damage. long-term exposure to arsenic found in the microchips of mobile phones, may cause nerve damage, lung cancer, skin diseases whereas, Lead exposure can cause brain damage, kidney damage, blood disorders, and is particularly harmful to children. These issues raise serious concerns and hence, proper management needs to be addressed from grassroot level.

Global demand for electronic devices is on the rise subsequently, increasing the number of used and discarded gadgets. It is estimated that around 50 million tonnes of e-waste are generated every year which makes electronic waste management of utmost necessity because of the immense pollution and hazards due to the inability to accumulate and dispose in an appropriate manner. 

India being one of the largest producers of electronic wastes is estimated to produce around 2 million tonnes annually. Informal recycling disposal techniques in India include burning cables, acid baths or disposing in nature which do not follow regulations laid down for proper management. These works are mainly carried out by women and children using bare hands, without mask and proper working environment and can have damaging effects not only on their health but the environment as well.

The discrepancy in the amount of e-waste produced and the amount of e-waste that is properly recycled echoes a pressing need for all stakeholders especially the youths to take note and address this grave issue.

Though Electronic waste plays a part of being a problem could also serve as part of the solution. Raw material which includes gold, silver, titanium, aluminium, tin, iron is reusable for instance it was reported that 32kg of gold, 3500kg of silver and 2,200kg of bronze recovered from about 78,985 tonnes of electronics was used to make medals for 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Through proper policies, infrastructure and regulations, e-waste management can generate millions of jobs the world over. Therefore, efficient material recovery and safe recycling of e-waste are extremely important for economic value as well as environmental and human health. 

Every year International E-Waste Day is held on the of 14 October, developed in 2018 by the WEEE Forum to reflect on the effects of e-waste and the necessary actions to raise public profile of e-waste and encourage consumers to recycle.

In combating electronic waste, E-Waste Club, SJC (Autonomous), Jakhama, in collaboration with e-circle management, Dimapur in partnership with Hulladek Recycling Private Limited, Kolkata, takes part in the collection and storage of E-waste in and around St Joseph’s College, Jakhama, in quest to enlighten the students about electronic waste pollution and health hazards it can cause to human health and the environment. We encourage all to join hands for a greater participation, to have a positive impact to our environment in the long run. 

“Recycle your e-waste for a sustainable technology”.

The writer is Assistant Professor in the Department of Botany SJC (A)